Before you read this, you need to ask yourself "Am I offended easily?" Be honest with yourself and stop now if you are, because this will probably offend you.
Most people that I've ever talked about this with end up being offened. All I can say to that is, "sometimes the truth hurts..." Incidentally, the truth also sets you free! 😆
"Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand." ~ Luke 8:8
In this post I submit, testing the doctrine of men that says, "When you die, you immediately go to heaven, if you are saved" This thought crossed my mind while reading through a portion of the New Testament. Where in John 3:13 I saw:
No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
So like the title says, should I stand on the doctrine of men? Or, should I stand on what the Bible says? Is it safe to place faith in doctrine, pastors or people who don't even read thier Bible? Or is it safer to place faith in the truth found in the Word of God? What does the Bible actully say about this? I found a couple of witnesses in scripture, that speak on this very subject.
"These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; they teach as doctrine the precepts of men." ~ Matthew 15:8-9
"These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him." ~ 1 John 2:26-27
Something I am always mindful of as I study scripture is that, "What I am reading could never mean to me, what it could never have meant to the author." For me... I tend to see a lot more often than not, that the doctrine of men tries to either twist, redefine or complicate scripture to fit what benifits him the most.
If you say that isn't true, consider this simple question, to illustrate my point: "How does scripture define sin, in the Bible?"
According to The Doctrine of Men - We have several definitions here;
"Sin is rebellion against God"
"Sin is opposed to Christ’s appearing to take away sins."
"Sin is serious because it originates with the devil."
"Others draw a distinction between the old and new natures of the believer, and argue that the new nature is incapable of sinning."
Here's the answer, based on scripture (in 3 differrent translations):
"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." ~ 1 John 3:4 (KJB)
"Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God." ~ 1 John 3:4 (NLT)
"Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness." ~ 1 John 3:4 (NIV)
I've noticed far too often that the doctrine of men tries to make scripture fit their point of view without looking at the context of the entire bible as a whole. The law of non-contradiction is a great method of discernment between the doctrine of men and commandments given to us from God. You will always find at least 2 (or more) witnesses that you can reference in scripture, that line up and will always help bring clarity on topics that might be a little diffcult to understand at first.
We should always be mindful to interpret what we're reading, based on the author’s intention of the meaning, not our own (the reader). It could never mean to the reader, what it didn't mean to the author. This means we need to have a firm grasp on the author’s context historically, grammatically, culturally and the literary forms and conventions the author was working in.
Well all that said, do we go to heaven when we die? I do not believe we do so, because all the scripture I could find on the topic, points to a glorious resurrection! That is of course, if we do not twist scripture to make it say what we want it to.
What does scripture say about who goes to heaven?
(John 3:13) - "No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, the Son of Man."
(1 Corinthians 15:50-56) - "Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. "O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
What does the Bible say about what happens when we die?
(Romans 6:5) - "For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his."
(1 Thessalonians 4:14-17) - "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of [the] archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord."
Where is resurrection mentioned in the Bible?
(John 5:25-29) - "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is [the] Son of Man. "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good [deeds] to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil [deeds] to a resurrection of judgment.
(Daniel 12:2) - "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."
(1 Corinthians 15:12-20) - "But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died."
There are three major resurrections indicated in Scripture:
At the return of Jesus Christ, a first resurrection to eternal life will take place for all of God’s faithful servants who have died throughout the ages (Ref: 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
After the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth, there will be a second resurrection to physical life for the majority of all people who have ever lived (Ref: Revelation 20:5-12).
There will be a third resurrection for the incorrigible to a brief period of consciousness, in which they will receive the righteous judgment of God—their destruction in the lake of fire, reaping eternal death, also called the second death, from which there is no further resurrection (Ref: Revelation 20:13-15).
Scripture in support of a Resurrection vs. Heaven
(Luke 39:43) - "One of the criminals who were hanged [there] was hurling abuse at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? "And we indeed [are suffering] justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." 42And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" 43And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."
When Jesus Christ returns, the dead will “rise.” For one to “rise,” one would have to come up from somewhere. If one had died and gone to heaven already, then how would that individual be rising from the grave when Christ returns? Wouldn't he / she would be descending from heaven? Is it possible that when Jesus Christ returns to the earth at the last day, the followers of Jesus Christ who have died will be raised from their graves and given eternal life?
Context, Context, Context!
Here's just a few references in scripture (there's several more) you can witnesses for your self, that support the idea of why we need to test this conclusion when reading scripture on this topic:
Jesus Christ clearly stated He would be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights upon His death (Ref: Matthew 12:39-40).
Peter obviously knew that he did not go immediately to heaven, where he mentioned " He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison" (Ref: 1 Peter 3:18-19)
Paul obviously knew he didn't immediately get Judged and go to Heaven when he died and resurrected. Notice where it says "(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?" (Ref: Ephesians 4:9).
When Mary sees Jesus at his tomb (AFTER) he raises from the dead, he tells Mary not to touch him because he hasn't yet ascended to his Father - who obviously is in Heaven (Ref: John 20:17).
Given all os this - How is it logical or even possible to say that we go to Heaven or Hell immediately upon death, if the Bible tells us this is what Jesus said?
Last Thoughts and Conclusion
In John 4:23-24, Jesus speaks to his disciples and says:
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth”
Something else that crossed my mind (that was sort of scarry) is that; "if Christ Messiah said there would be "true worshippers" -- Was He also saying that there are false worshippers too?"
Sadly, there are many well-intentioned but false worshippers infiltrating the whole body of Christian believers today who are not worshipping God in truth. Accept the challenge of seeking God’s truth!(Ref: 2 Timothy 3:16). Pray for God to guide you in your pursuit of His truth (Ref: 1 Corinthians 2:13) and as you learn it, live it out!