What happens when you die? Do good people go to Heaven? Do bad people go to Hell? After all, that’s what millions of Christians believe, and they all can’t be wrong, can they? Even people of different religions teach the concepts of going to a place of either reward or punishment upon death, but some teach you come back again as someone or something else. Then, what about those that teach “soul sleep”? What’s the truth? The truth may surprise you!
The Bible is a book that claims to have the answers to these questions. Yet, surprisingly few look into to it to see what it actually says! Even those who claim to base their beliefs upon the Bible don’t know what it says! This shouldn’t be surprising, seeing as in the UK only “1 in 4 (25%) read the Bible more than once a week” (Bible Reading Research, http://www.citw.org.uk/research.htm)! In New Zealand, it drops to a staggering 6% (http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-16945578.html)! In the US, it isn’t much better. In spite of a 2001 survey that says 54% of Protestants read the Bible during the week (http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=93), a 2009 survey finds that “one-quarter [of Christians] dismiss the idea that the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches” (http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdateNarrow&BarnaUpdateID=324). Talk about contradictory! Yet, if the Bible really contains answers, then shouldn’t we be looking at what it says?
It is a sad reality that most professing Christians would rather hang up their brains at the door of the church when they enter. Instead of checking on what their pastor/minister/priest is telling them, they would rather just take in whatever they are spoon-fed from the pulpit. Many of them would spend more time studying in a college or even high school classroom than they will in matters of eternal significance! Yet, when it comes time to give an account for their lives, who will be standing before God answering questions? That minister won’t be there to give an answer! It will be the individual! And, this will be what they will be told they should have been doing during their lives:
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
~ 1Th 5:21
Is the Reward Heaven?
Most Christians assume they will go to Heaven when they die. Did you know that contradicts what the Bible says? Get out your Bible, blow off the dust and have a look at these verses!
Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?
~ Pr 30:4
And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
~ Jn 3:13
In many Bibles, this verse is in red. If Jesus spoke those words, then shouldn’t we be paying attention to them?
Was King David a righteous king? He was a man after God’s own heart, after all (1Sa 13:14; Ac 13:22). He so impressed God that He promised the Messiah would come from the line of David (Isa 11:1-9; Jer 23:5; 33:14-16). Wouldn’t he be in Heaven
Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
…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.
~ Ac 2:29, 34-35
Utterly remarkable! If even King David, of whom Peter here speaks highly of, is not in heaven, then where is he? This plain Scripture tells us “he is both dead and buried”. He is in his tomb! He hasn’t gone anywhere!
Where Is a Christian’s Reward?
Don’t close that Bible yet! Read it! Where is our reward?
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth
~ Mt 5:5
The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.
~ Ps 115:16
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am [on the earth after His return], there ye may be also.
~ Jn 14:1-3
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
~ Rev 5:9-10
Jesus ascended up into the heavens, and He will return the same way to the earth.
And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
~ Ac 1:9-11
After He returns to the earth, then what?
Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.
For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations
[on the earth], as when he fought in the day of battle.
And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
~ Zec 14:1-4
And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.
And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
~ vv 8-9
This of course is talking about Christ’s 1,000 year rule over the earth. But, that’s not all! Notice the final place where both God the Father and Jesus will both reside.
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
…And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
~ Rev 21:1-3, 22-23
Where Does the False Idea About Heaven Come From?
Let us ask, “Who wanted to ascend to heaven?” Where would a false doctrine about going to Heaven come from?
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
~ Isa 14:12-14
Notice that Satan is capable of deceiving the entire world!
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
~ Rev 12:9
Lucifer, whose name was changed to Satan, was given rule over the earth. He was created as a powerful archangel. He was supposed to prepare the earth for humanity, and he was given control over the earth to accomplish his mission. That is why he is called the “god of this world” (2Co 4:4), and that is one of the main reasons he is still around. He became full of pride and wanted to take over Heaven, and he even wanted to kick God off of His throne (cf. Rev 12:7-8)!
That isn’t the only falsehood he wants you to believe, though. Just as it is his idea that he should be in Heaven ruling the universe, it is also his fate that he would like people to believe they will suffer. The next section will deal with What Happens When You Die? 2: Is Hell the Punishment for Sinners?