If you’re a believer, where will you go when you die?
Where will you go if you are still on Earth when Jesus returns?
These may seem like simple questions, but they are not as clear-cut as you might think.
In fact, if you’re like me, you have never heard a single sermon on this subject – at least one that is biblically based.
If you’re like me, you’ve never been part of a formal Bible study that focused on this matter of where we go when we die.
If you’re like me, you probably never read a book on this subject – apart from those who claim they have had near-death experiences and were sent back from heaven.
Am I right?
That’s one of the many reasons I set out on a 10-year intensive Bible study with my wife and family to find answers no one else was providing – maybe because they weren’t prepared to provide them. It resulted in my latest book, “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age,” a prophecy book of a much different kind – one focused on these fundamental issues and others, including:
- What is the fundamental conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees and Sadducees and other Jewish religious leaders in the four gospels, and what important point does it make? (And don’t answer with that old joke about them being “sad, you see.”)
- How will Jesus bring peace to the Middle East?
- What will the Kingdom of God, talked about so often throughout the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures, be like?
- Were the Ten Commandments and the other moral laws of the Torah overturned by the coming of Jesus as so many Christian pastors assume?
- If the Ten Commandments are still valid, why don’t we observe the fourth commandment regarding the Sabbath?
- Does God have different rules for gentile believers and Jewish believers in Messiah?
- What will Jesus do when He returns, and to whom and where will He return?
- Did Jesus come to start a new religion?
- What did the first-century faith look like?
- What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus today, and are we living up to his expectations?
- Are we living in the fulfillment of the New Covenant today?
- What is the greatest miracle in history, according to the Bible, and are we actually experiencing it today?
- Should we be preparing ourselves for the Kingdom of God – and if so, how?
Those are just some of the major topics I address in “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age,” and I hope they intrigue you enough to give it a try.
But let’s get back to where you go when you die. I think 99.9 percent of Christians assume we go to heaven when we die. Can you cite a single, clear-cut passage in the Bible that makes that assertion?
It may be true, but it is not stated unambiguously, even once, as you might think.
Ezekiel was said to be taken up to heaven in a whirlwind, but he was not dead. And there is more than one heaven, according to Scripture. And John 3:13 states: “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” That statement is recorded long after Jesus’ ascension.
There are other “suggestions” in Scripture that lead some to believe heaven is the destination for believers who die. But which heaven? There’s reason to believe that Jesus’ references to the Kingdom of Heaven includes the redeemed earth, as in the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus tells us to store up our treasures in heaven, but He does not say it’s our destination after death.
One of the most often cited passages to suggest believers go to heaven after death is found in Luke 23:43, in which Jesus says to the repentant thief on the cross: “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” But there are two problems with that passage. Is Paradise heaven? Is it the only Paradise? Or could there be another place reserved for those saved until the Kingdom of God on earth is established.
Acts 2:34-35 states: “For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool.” How does David sit at Jesus’ right hand without ascending to heaven?
Romans 10:6-7 says: “But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)”
As the title to my book refers, the Apostle Peter said our hope for the future is what all the prophets looked forward to from Creation forward – and indeed my search through those Scriptures confirm what he said in Acts 3.
Acts 3:19-25: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.”
What do I take away from my studies of all those prophetic Scriptures cited by Peter?
That mankind was made for earth, not for heaven – at least not until after the times of refreshing here on earth. That’s when the Kingdom of Heaven comes to earth for 1,000 years, with Jesus the Messiah ruling and reigning with a rod of iron over the planet from Jerusalem. Earth must be restored to its Garden of Eden-style perfection. (Isaiah 51:3, Ezekiel 36:35, Joel 2:3)
Could I be wrong? Could there be some sort of heavenly, paradisaical weigh station for those who die in Messiah before that time? Of course. But are we putting our faith in the traditions of men rather than the teaching of Scripture by expecting to go where John says no man has gone except Jesus? That’s for you to determine for yourself.
If something was so certain, as most believers seem to think, that followers of God go to heaven when they die, shouldn’t we expect it to be stated clearly and unambiguously in the Bible?
My message? Don’t just accept what you are told the Scriptures say – not by me or anyone else. Study them for yourself. One way or another, there’s a new world awaiting you. As a follower of Jesus, you should want to be prepared – certainly more prepared than those who met Him when He came the first time.
Learn more about the hope of all believers in a restored earth in the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven in “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age” by Joseph Farah.
See the book trailer for “The Restitution of All Things”:
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