Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Steve Myers] Where do you find in the Bible where it says you go to heaven at death? Jesus didn’t promise Christians heaven after they die.
We were still just teenagers when my friend Jim’s father died. He was devastated, he loved his Dad. In fact his Dad was one of the cool ones. One of the ones that the teens loved his Dad and Jim would tell me about his Dad and the times they spent together. How they hunted, they fished, they just really enjoyed being together and it hurt me and I couldn’t imagine how much it devastated Jim. I mean he tried to reconcile that whole situation because he wondered why would a loving God allow his Dad to die so young. It just didn’t make sense. It didn’t make sense to me. But his minister tried to comfort him. He told him God works in mysterious ways. In fact he also told him that his Dad was looking down on him from heaven and so we’d talk about that a little bit and sometimes Jim would think that his dad could somehow hear him. And so he’d try to talk to his Dad but he never did get a response. He got so frustrated with religion. We’d talk about that and he thought out loud you know if my Dad is in paradise how could he really enjoy that looking down at all my problems and the difficulties? Doesn’t sound much like paradise to me. Well, it didn’t to me either but at the time I didn’t know the answer. I didn’t know how to respond. I mean how would you answer? Jim came to believe there was no answer.
Now years later I came to realize there is an answer even though most don’t know. Even though most religion may not know. The Bible. Now the Bible paints an absolutely clear picture of what’s to come. So let’s think about that question for a moment. Will I go to heaven? We’re going to break it down just a little bit and talk about three different aspects, three parts to this question.
In fact one of the things we need to think about is whether or not good people are promised heaven? Are you promised to go to heaven when you die? I went out on the street and talked to a number of individuals and heard a couple of different perspectives on this subject. Let’s have a listen.
> Well a lot people have different opinions about where they go you know. I particularly, you know, say hey I’m going to the four winds of heaven.
>> The last thing is when you get to heaven you get to see those people that you truly love that are Christians also up there in heaven so it’s a second homecoming.
>>> If I do a good job here I’ll be able to go to heaven and all that fun stuff, yeah.
[Steve] What do you think happens after you die?
> Well hopefully I go to heaven.
>> That is the mystery. That is a very big mystery.
[Steve] Now it doesn’t have to be a big mystery. We heard a number of different opinions out there but they’re contradictory. Well what does the Bible really have to say about good people or just anybody? What happens when you die? Do you go directly to heaven as so many people believe? I mean it can be kind of comforting. The idea can be sort of reassuring, but does that make it true just because it can be comforting? I mean isn’t that really the difference between wishful thinking and what’s the fact?
Now here’s a difficult situation. Now if you believe you go to heaven at death there’s a few Bible passages that we’ve got to talk about for a moment. Could be difficult passages to try to sort out what exactly happens if you believe that and one of those passages is found in the book of Acts. Acts 2:29 says this “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David.” So he’s talking about King David. King David is one of those righteous kings of Israel who is said to be a man after God’s own heart. So after explaining that David’s like that you would certainly think that he would be one that would be in heaven and yet in Acts 2 it says David, “is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.”
In fact if that’s not enough a few verses later down in verse 34 it says that David did not ascend into the heavens. So David is not in heaven. He did not go to heaven right after he died. That can be a little trouble - how do you explain that? You might say well okay maybe just one time it says that in the Bible but it must not be what it really means is it?
Well Jesus said a very similar thing over in the book of John. John 3:13 notice what Jesus says, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” So Christ is saying the same thing that was said in the book of Acts. So it brings us to a pretty big challenge. Where do you find in the Bible where it says you go to heaven at death? Jesus didn’t promise Christians heaven after they died. In fact when you think of the great heroes of the Bible, who are those that you might think well they have to be in heaven. If there’s a heaven after death they’ve got to be there.
Well you might think of a passage that’s in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews chapter 11 discusses a number of those great heroes of the Bible. What happened to them? Well in Hebrews 11 it lists some of those people you might consider well they should certainly be there. People like Abraham, people like Sarah, people like Noah, people like Abraham, people like Jacob. They should all be in heaven shouldn’t they? Well Hebrews 11 known as the faith chapter, goes on with all of these different individuals and then at the end of the chapter it comes to an amazing conclusion. Here’s what it says in verse 39. It says “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise.” They didn’t go to heaven at death. They didn’t receive the promise.
And so what we begin to see here when we consider this subject, there’s a big difference to between what people may believe happens and then what the Bible actually says. In fact our study aid discusses this very thing. Our Bible study aid “Heaven and Hell – What Does the Bible Really Teach?” it addresses this subject. In fact it puts it this way. It says, “Should we then accept a teaching that is not found in the Bible? Many people take it for granted that their beliefs are based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and God’s Word.”
If we’re to understand the truth about any religious teaching we must look to the Holy Scriptures. Jesus said in a prayer to His Father, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). And that’s why you’ll want to get the study aid because it points this out and you can look into this subject in depth.
It goes on to say that the view that the soul goes to heaven at death though held by many in good faith, cannot be found in scripture. Now that is something that you’ll want to read for yourself. Get in depth, get this study aid, and get into the topic. You can get it free. Beyondtoday.tv, go there, download it for free or call the number on your screen.
You see because scripture doesn’t teach that heaven is the reward immediately after death. So then we’d better think about that for a moment. What happens at death? Are we conscious at death? Does life go on in some other state or in some other place? I mean my friend Jim, so many tried to comfort him with that idea that his Dad was kind of still around and so many people just don’t know. And yet if they look at what the bible has to say they are surprised about what it says happens to us at death.
Now I spoke to a number of people on the street about this and they had some interesting perspectives. Let’s listen.
> Well we don’t know if we are going to be looking down on friends and family. No one knows that. I haven’t been dead and then come back down and said well guess what there mister interview guy, this is what happens!
>> Just yesterday I was on an airplane flying home and I remember being up in the clouds and everything thinking I wonder what else is out here, you know, what don’t we know about and what would it be like if you could actually see into your friends or family or whatever and what they are doing each day. And then I started thinking about my father and people I’d lost and thinking is he watching us here? What’s going on? So yeah I do give it some thought. I don’t have any answers though.
>>> You know I think it depends. If you die young and you have family and friends down there being able to watch over them and see them and not be able to really help them or intervene in the way that we think of it that actually sounds like hell.
[Steve] He’s right. He’s right. Looking down and not being able to do anything. Have you thought about that before? Not being able to help would be absolutely awful. So what does happen? Let’s think about what does happen because the Bible does talk about specifically what happens at death.
In the book of Ecclesiastes it tells us this. In Ecclesiastes 9:5 it says very clearly what happens at death. It says “For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing.”
That sounds quite different from what so many people believe. In fact a couple of verses later in verse 10 it says “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.”
So the Bible teaches that the dead are unconscious. They’re unaware. They don’t know anything. There’s no more feelings. Those feelings go to the grave with us and the person who’s died is totally unaware that time continues to pass. In fact the Bible says that death is the absolute cessation of life. It’s very clear there’s no consciousness. There’s not any continued life in a different place. In fact it can be kind of shocking. Imagine this, the Bible says we don’t have an immortal soul. There’s not a part of us that continues living on apart from the body. In fact the Bible says you don’t have a soul, you are a soul. You are a living breathing creature. And some may think of that and look at what the Bible has to say and ughhhh, that just isn’t all that reassuring. I’m dead and I’m just there waiting. Isn’t that kind of hopeless?
No. Not by what the Bible says at all. In fact it is very hopeful when you read how the Apostle Paul encouraged God’s church it is a powerful thing to wait in the grave. Let’s read about that in 1 Thessalonians 4 we’re told very specifically what it’s like to be dead. Imagine this in verse 13 of 1 Thess. 4. “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep.” Now here he’s trying to encourage the church because some had died in the faith. They were dead, they had fallen asleep. He says “lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”
So what happens when you sleep? What’s going on? Do you know much of what’s happening in the world when you sleep? No. You’re unaware. You don’t know what’s going on, on the other side of the world where it’s sunlight. You don’t know that at all. So you’re unaware of life that’s going on, you don’t have any knowledge of events, you have no consciousness. So with that description, how could people who have died be in heaven looking down on earth when Scripture tells us plainly they are in the grave asleep?
Now you might say well I don’t know if I’m convinced of that. Well Jesus said the same thing. Jesus Christ talked about the fact that death can be compared to sleep. Now it’s not sleeping. But it can be compared to sleep and we find Christ teaching about this over in John 11. In John 11:11, here we find Jesus concerned about his friend Lazarus and the disciples tell him that he’s not doing very well. Christ says to them, this is in John 11:11, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” Now the interesting part is the disciples were listening to Christ talk and so they said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” But that’s not what Christ was talking about. However verse 13 says Jesus spoke of his death. But they thought he was speaking about taking a rest in sleep.
So we find that the Bible coincides in its teaching. It is absolutely consistent. Not only did Paul talk about this but Jesus Christ Himself taught that death can be compared to sleep. In fact our Bible study aid “Heaven and Hell – What Does The Bible Really Teach?” gets in-depth into the story of Lazarus. In fact let me read just a little bit of an excerpt about what it says. It says, “Like Lazarus, everyone enters a figurative state of sleep at death. The dead are unconscious. The common belief is that at death the body goes to the grave and the soul remains conscious and goes either to heaven or hell.” Yet this belief is not biblical. In fact it goes on to quote Martin Luther. Even Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation, he wrote this “It is probable, in my opinion, that, with very few exceptions indeed, the dead sleep in utter insensibility till the day of judgment … On what authority can it be said that the souls of the dead may not sleep … in the same way that the living pass in profound slumber the interval between their downlying at night and their uprising in the morning?”
You see when you read the Bible you get a different picture than the idea of heaven and there is so much to learn so I hope you will order your free booklet by calling the number on your screen or go to beyondtoday.tv and download your free copy.
So let’s think about that for a moment. Let’s continue to answer that question, will I go to heaven? Now breaking it down just a little bit, let’s personalize it. What will happen to me? What will happen to me at death? I mean we’ve seen that the Bible clearly teaches that good people don’t go to heaven at death. Instead they sleep in the grave waiting. So what are they waiting for?
Well, my friend Jim’s Dad he’s waiting. He’s still in the grave. Now in order to answer that question we can look to the Bible and find that exact question posed in the Book of Job. Job asked probably one of the most crucial questions about life after death. Let’s notice how Job describes death. This is in Job 14:13. Speaking to God he says, “Oh, that You would hide me in the grave, That You would conceal me until Your wrath is past, That You would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man dies, shall he live again?”Then Job answers that question. He says, “All the days of my hard service I will wait, Till my change comes. You shall call, and I will answer You.”
So Job talked very clearly about what happens after death. All of the dead. Not just Job but the good and well, even the not so good. All alike will eventually be resurrected each in their own order. So what happens? Well Christians will be resurrected. They’ll be resurrected at the return of Jesus Christ. Christians will be brought back to life in powerful spiritual bodies. In fact Scripture tells us that when Christ returns we shall be like him. And so this is a real thing. This is not some vague ethereal kind of well I’m kind of floating in the clouds or anything like that. If you believe the Bible you’ve got to believe Jesus Christ’s words Himself. He talked about this very thing in John 5:28. He pointed it out so very clearly. He said “Do not marvel at this.” Don’t be surprised! Don’t be astounded for this very fact. Christ says “the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth.”
So Christ clearly taught that you are waiting in the grave and then eventually all are going to rise. Everyone is going to wake up from that slumber at the resurrection and Paul said a resurrection will occur. In fact he loved to talk about the last trumpet when Christ would return that that time between their death and the resurrection God’s faithful people will be asleep in their graves and then the sound of that trumpet they’re going to wake up and be like Christ. In fact our Bible study aid “Heaven and Hell – What Does the Bible Really Teach?” speaks to this very issue. It shows how amazing this time will be. Notice what it says. “Why should we believe in the resurrection of the dead? We should take heart because the resurrection of Christ, in whose steps we follow, it is a biblically and historically confirmed fact.” The resurrection. The resurrection offers the promise of life after death. Not by people living apart from their body’s after death but through a resurrection. A resurrection from the dead that will be taking place in the future. In fact it goes on and says, “Many people… are anxious about the matter of death. The truth of the resurrection proclaimed by God’s word can counter any anxiety and hopelessness inherent in any approach that excludes God…The truth of the resurrection provides comfort for our natural anxiety about death.”
Now you’ll want to know more about this. Get this free study aid. Call us at the number on your screen. In fact if the number is busy, write it down and call us back later and get your free copy of “Heaven and Hell – What Does the Bible Really Teach?” Or you can go online. Order it at beyondtoday.tv.
The fact is there is great news ahead. The fact that Jesus Christ is coming back to this earth. We’re going to have the opportunity to be with Him. To be like Him. Not off in heaven playing harps or being like little baby angels or anything like that. Imagine what the Bible really teaches. It talks about a beautiful earth, a place where there is no corrupt government. Where there is no fighting. There is no war. Families are going to be together. There’s going to be peace.
You see, the Bible doesn’t promise heaven. All those who have died, they are still in their graves waiting and resting in the grave.
You see you don’t have to be left not knowing. You don’t have to be like my friend Jim. You can know. You can study the Word. Study the Scriptures. You’ll find that God has a plan that’s very different from most popular beliefs. It’s a plan for us. And we can be among those who will be resurrected to be with Christ in his Kingdom. In fact haven’t you prayed that? You’ve probably prayed “Thy Kingdom Come.” You see the future God has planned for us is absolutely astounding. It’s not just imagination; it’s not just wishful thinking. It will be a time here on earth of prosperity. A time of abundance. A time of peace and love and that’s the Kingdom God wants you a part of. Christ said very clearly when He was preaching and teaching, He said the Kingdom of God is near. In fact in Mark 1:15 He said very clearly “Repent, and believe in the gospel.” You see God wants to share this beautiful future with all of us. With all who repent and with all who turn from their sins.
So let’s be sure to take comfort in what the Bible really teaches because the time is coming, the time is coming when Christ will return to earth. And that’s a beautiful time, a wonderful time, when we can finally be together. In fact there’s a time coming when there will be no more death. There will be no more pain. There will be no more suffering. It will be a wonderful time of peace and prosperity. Now in the meantime, God’s got something important for us. In the meantime we live our life according to His way and when we die we take a break, we rest. We rest in the grave until the time of Jesus Christ. Until the time that Christ will return and we can look forward to that day. That time when Christ will come back and make this world right. He will establish the Kingdom of God and we can be His sons and daughters in that beautiful Kingdom. A time when death will finally be put away and there will be no more crying. And we can look at that time and we can be hopeful for that time because it’s something we can hang on to. It’s something that is promised over and over and over again.
So make sure and get your study aid. Make sure and realize what the Bible truly teaches. Get it out, read it for yourself, just don’t believe what you might have learned when you were growing up. What does the Bible really have to say about life and about death? You see when you really look at the pages of the Bible it becomes very clear there is a beautiful time coming when Christ is going to return and when He does we can finally be together. We can finally be together with our loved ones and we can be there in the Kingdom of God. And you know what? That’s better than heaven.
[Narrator] Please call for the free booklet offered on today’s program “Heaven and Hell – What Does the Bible Really Teach?” This free study aid will help you answer the tough questions such as, what did Jesus teach happens to you when you die? Is heaven really God’s reward for righteousness? Will a loving God punish people forever in hell? And what could be learned from the story of Lazarus and the rich man?
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