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of this information about Heaven is also in the Paper titled "What Happens after death?"
We hear the word heaven in many contexts but just what is heaven and where is it? Our research has revealed that there are three heavens recorded in the bible. 1) The place right above us where the birds fly as we find in Gen 1:20, It states "Then God said, "Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.") Then we have a heaven where the stars are, (universe) Neh 9:23, and 3) and we have the third heaven which is where God and Jesus live with the holy angels as we find referred to in 2 Cor 12:2 which states: "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago-- whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows-- such a one was caught up to the third heaven." So we see there are three heavens with three levels above the earth and it is very important to keep this in mind when going through the below information.
Some questions people ask are...Where do we go after death? Is there life right after we die, or is there a time span before we come back to life? The most questions asked are do we go to heaven or hell right after death and then many ask about the subject of what is the resurrection we read about in the bible? (I Cor. 15: 42-58) So is there a place of punishment for the wicked in some place called hellfire where the wicked are tormented in great pain and suffering for eternity or has folk lure added to some myths over the years? If hell is a real place what does the bible teach about this place called hell? What does the bible teach about the soul and is there a differences between the soul and the spirit? The term "Hell" is also used as the abode of the dead, identified with the Hebrew "Sheol" and the Greek word "Hades" or the pit. The word "Graves" (Plural) is used in the New Testament and in the Old Testament as "Grave" and it was understood as the burying place, or sepulchre as we find it recorded in Acts 2:29; "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb (sepulchre) is with us to this day."
Now let's go to the Christian bible again to see what the bible teaches us about death. Eccl 9:4-5. "But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten."
Life, Death and The Resurrection:
Let's look at the term resurrection and learn what it means. The definition is "To raise from the dead." As the rising of Christ from the dead, or the rising again to life of all the human dead before the final great white throne judgment at the end of Christ's thousand-year rule. When people teach that the one being buried is in heaven have not really considered the term "Death" and just what it means. Before we continue about the resurrection let's take a close look at the definition of life and death so we can be informed and then be able to see why the bible teaches what it does about life and death.
LIFE: is the quality that distinguishes a vital and "functional" being from a dead body. The sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual. To be alive is to be thinking, moving, feeling, and interacting with others who are also alive.
DEATH: is the "cessation" of all vital functions such as thinking, moving, feeling, and interacting with the living. So the state of being dead is the cessation of life. So we find that to be dead is to be without ALL our senses such as site, hearing, feeling, taste, and smelling.
What did the apostles say concerning King David's death recorded in Acts 2:29? "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day." What did David himself record in, Ps 115:17. "The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD'S; but the earth He has given to the children of men. The dead do not praise the LORD, nor any who go down into silence. But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the LORD!" He stated that the dead can not even praise God, so if what is taught in Churches that the dead are in heaven alive then why can't they praise God?
Where did the teaching that we go to heaven when we die come from?
Our research have found that the teaching of going to heaven after we die, as well as the teaching of the immortal soul, came from the old pagan Hellenistic religion and is not biblical. They taught that spirits in heaven would want to be born as humans and experience life with all the challenges we have here. They contended that to do so would raise them higher in their status as spirit beings. The more they returned and overcame what they could not in their other physical lives the higher they would rise. We have found in our research that the Hellenistic religion was embedded in the Jewish religion at the time Jesus began His ministry. In fact we find that the apostles had to preach against this very religion during their ministry. We can read of this in Acts 9:29. "And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him." It is not my intent to go into the study of the Hellenistic religion here, but you can go to the link at the end of this study to view our research. It is notable that many of their beliefs were adopted by what became known as the Catholic Church, and thereby filtered down to what is know today as The Christian faith by way of the Protestants who separated from their mother Church. We will cover in detail from the scriptures in the Christian bible who has immortality in this study.
What did Jesus teach?
It should be much more important to know what Jesus taught so let's start by looking at what Jesus Himself stated about the question of going to heaven recorded here in John 3:12-15. We read, "If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.Ē (NKJ throughout)
Jesus also taught that which is spirit is spirit, and that which is flesh is flesh, so what did Paul also teach about the type of body we must have before we can enter the Kingdom of God which is yet to come? Let's read more on the subject in 1 Cor 15:46-50. "However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption." Notice two things. One “we shall” denotes the future, and second that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom; we MUST become spirit in order to enter God’s Kingdom. Now Jesus stated the same thing when He stated; " "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Also let's add the other statement Jesus conveyed to Nicodemus about those that will become spirit after they are born again; "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." John 3:8. Are you flesh or spirit? Can people see you or are you as the wind?
Let's look at some more scriptures that shine a light on the fact we don't go to heaven after death and who has life inherent. Let's look at what is recorded in John 5:26-29. "For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice, and come forth-- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." This means that all who have died (except Jesus) are still in their graves to this day. They are not in heaven or a place of torment. Notice again what Jesus states; "all who are in the graves will hear His voice" Now if all who are dead and in their graves will hear His voice, and come forth at the resurrection when Jesus returns, (yet future) what would be the point if people go to heaven at death? Again stated from Jesusí own words we see they were in their graves! If the dead were in heaven, Jesus (Who never lies) would have stated so.
Another reason confusion about
this subject of going to heaven continues is because misguided preachers have,
and do misinterpret the scripture concerning when Jesus told the thief on the
stake next to Him "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with
Me in Paradise." Luke 23:43. The confusion comes in when they refer to
the word TODAY, but they donít think it through. Let's do just that now; let's
think it through. The point is that Jesus could not have meant that very
day because Jesus did not go back to heaven THAT day...He went into the
grave for three days, and three nights. The thief went to the grave THAT day
also. What was Jesus telling the man next to Him if He did not mean that they
would be in heaven that day? Jesus was telling the man he had received salvation
THAT day because he believed Jesus was the Son of God, and our savior.
The Kingdom of God:
Another question concerning heaven is what is the Kingdom of God and do we ever go to heaven to be in the Kingdom?
A kingdom has a ruler, laws, cities, and land. Let's take a look at what is described in Rev. 21:1-5. "Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."
Notice the wording "coming down out of heaven." What does it mean that the Kingdom of God will come "down from" heaven? Remember what we covered in the beginning of this study about the dead not going to heaven because flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom? Notice in the above scripture of Rev 21:1-3 that the Kingdom is coming to this earth, and God will dwell with mankind, not mankind going to heaven to dwell with God. What a big difference from what many misguided teachers have taught for so many years, and people have accepted as true doctrine because their minister stated it was so. Many never check for the truth in the Christian bible to see what it states about it, but nowhere does the Bible teach that mankind will go to heaven or a place of eternal torment at death; just the contrary. Remember in Matt: 5:5, Jesus stated that the meek shall inherit the earth? It is important to note that He did not teach that the meek will inherit heaven.
Two types of Bodies:
The answer from the bible is that there are two types of bodies that humans can have. The physical body and the spiritual body. The physical body dies and as the bible states will go back to where it came from; the dust of the ground as we read in Gen 3:19. "In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return." The bible also reveals that the spirit IN man then returns to God who gave it and will become born again at the future first resurrection when Jesus returns. (Eccl 12:7 7.) According to scripture we will put off this physical body and put on a spiritual body at that time so let's look at the scriptures written by the apostle Paul when teaching about the two types of bodies he called a natural body, and a spiritual body. Notice that he starts the subject by stating "So also is the resurrection of the dead." Let's read about this in 1 Cor 15:42-44." So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." Notice what he said about the order of existence from the natural body to the spiritual body. Now let's look at the time that we will become spirit. Paul continues to explain on into verses 47-54 that there will be a resurrection when the last trumpet sounds; that is, when the seventh angel sounds the trumpet, and Christ returns. We can find the sounding of this seventh trumpet in Rev. 11-15.
Is the Kingdom of God already here as some teach?
Let's read in Rev. 11:14-15. "The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly. Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" We see here that the Kingdom does not come until the seventh angel sounds the trumpet, which is the same trumpet mentioned in 1 Cor. 15:52, so this event is still future, and again, we see here that the Kingdom is coming to this earth.
Is the Kingdom within us now?
What about the teaching that the Kingdom of God is within us now? (Or inside us) What does the bible really teach about this? The scripture used is Luke 17:21 so let's look at this scripture and ask some important questions. "Nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is "within" you." Many teachers use this verse to teach their doctrine of the Kingdom is within us now, but letís take a close look at this scripture letting the Spirit of God lead us into truth. Let's look at the intent of the author by using the facts we find in the wording. Our research found that the word "within" is wrongly used in the above scripture and is not the word Luke wrote. The word "within" in the Greek is "entos;" "inside" which is an adverb or noun. The Greek word used here by Luke in the Greek was "en;" a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position in place, time or state; it means in close proximity. Jesus was saying I am standing by you, and "I am the Kingdom of God," and if you reject Me, and My words, that are from the Holy Father then you are rejecting the Kingdom of God and salvation. Remember, the bible is our teacher, and it teaches that the Kingdom of God will not come until the last trumpet sounds after the great tribulations. I believe what the bible states and then work on the question of the scripture being used that teach contrary to known biblical truth. Again, let's think this through. Here is a very good point to ask. If Jesus was telling the Pharisees they had the Kingdom "within" them, and the Kingdom is for those who accept Jesus as the Christ; how could the Pharisees have it in them when they rejected Jesus as the Messiah? Remember they hated and rejected Jesus.
Another question is; who is it
that will not inherit the kingdom of God? 1 Cor 6:9-10. "Do you not know
that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived.
Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revelers, nor extortioners will
inherit the kingdom of God."
Who has immortality at this time?
We know that the bible teaches the concept of immortality so let's study about who has immortality now? 1 Tim 6:13-16. "I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, "who alone" has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen." (Emphasis mine) God the Father and Jesus the Messiah are the only God beings that have eternal life inherent at this time, and are the only beings that have the power to give everlasting life. Notice that I used the word "inherent" to describe God the Father and Jesus His Son because the angels and demons do have eternal life also, but they are created beings not "God beings with life inherent", and do not have power apart from God the father or Jesus the Messiah.
Some teach that Jesus was a created being, but is this true? The truth is that we find many examples that Jesus has always existed as the "Word of God" just as the apostle John recorded in John 1:1-4. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." And in verse 13, and 14 we read, "who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
Many ask what about Elijah who was reported to have gone up into the heavens
by a whirlwind?
Most of the time God will not replace a prophet until the other one is finished with his work and in most cases the prophet dies. In this case God chose to replace Elijah with Elisha and retire him elsewhere. When Elijah was taken up into the heavens it was the heavens that the birds fly in. We know this because the Hebrew word used as heaven in II Ki 2:11 is shamayim (shaw-mah'-yim); which means the sky or air and can also mean: "alluding to the visible arch in which the clouds move". Elijah could not just stay in the whirlwind and we know Elijah did not die because we find in scripture that Elijah sent a letter to King Jehoram and King Jehoram became King after Elijah had been taken into the whirlwind. We also know Elijah did not go to the 3rd heaven as Jesus Himself stated years later as we find in John 3:13 that no man has ascended into heaven except He who came down which was Jesus. Note: Scriptures do not state where Elijah lived or when he died but we know he died at some point as all are by the command of God appointed to die once.
We can read of this letter sent to King Jehoram from Elijah in 2 Chr 21:12 which states "And a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, Thus says the LORD God of your father David: Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father, or in the ways of Asa king of Judah, but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and have made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot like the harlotry of the house of Ahab, and also have killed your brothers, those of your father's household, who were better than yourself, behold, the LORD will strike your people with a serious affliction-- your children, your wives, and all your possessions; and you will become very sick with a disease of your intestines, until your intestines come out by reason of the sickness, day by day."
What about hell? ... Hell fire and Tormrent
Other Related subjects below:
To understand the subject concerning the "Soul" read ... What happens after death?
You also might want to study the Truth about the Rapture
To Preach the Kingdom
The Ten Virgins
True Gospel of Jesus the Messiah
The New Covenant
(As taught from the book of Hebrews.)
Law vs. grace
Timothy M. Youngblood
The Master's Table