52. Where do we go when we die?

Under the Old Covenant the of Israelites in Jesus day believed that when they died they would all go to 'sheol'...the grave or the place of waiting. What they were waiting for was the resurrection of 'the dead' for judgment. This is not specifically taught but referred to by prophecies which Jesus and the apostles confirmed by quoting or alluding to in many places. The scriptures teach that in their future God Himself was to provide a seed who would crush the serpents head (Gen 3:15) ... and a Lamb for the sacrifice (Gen 22:14) to save the nation from its SIN (Mat 1:21 and John 1:29). They believed that the resurrection and judgment would then occur at the time known as 'the end of the age' at which time they would be judged for their adherance to the Law and be rewarded by being with God in His Kingdom when He himself would rule on earth though the coming Messiah.

 

Deut 30:19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them."  NKJV

 

The failure of Israel as a nation under the Law was that most focussed on the WORKS they had to do ...and FAILED to seek GOD Himself. (Rom 9:30-33, Rom 10:3-4) to find LIFE. Throughout history they apostacised and served false gods but God at the same time always had a 'remnant' of believers loyal to Him in the nation (Isaiah and other the prophets mention this as does Rom 11 vs 4-6) ... and this includes those who were sealed and came out of the great tribulation after forming the base of the early church (Rev 7:14)

 

John 5:39-40  You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.  40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.   NKJV
 
The scriptures were to point people to JESUS...to look for salvation and eternal life.
 

The great men of faith throughout Hebrew history are recorded in Hebrews chapter 11 as those who sought and found God by faith. From among the patriarchs it includes men and women such as Abel and Enoch and Noah and Abraham and Sarah and from those under the Law it includes Moses, the judges, David and Samuel and all the prophets along with all who believed. We are told these looked forward to time when God himself would rule... in a city whose builder and maker was God (Heb 11:10), a heavenly country (vs 16), where they would experience the riches of Christ (vs 26) and believed that they would obtain a better resurrection (vs 35) after this life.

 

What persuaded them we might ask? Simply encounters with the living God who they had sought by faith (vs 6). They also heard and read stories of their ancestors encounters with God. Cain offered better sacrifices...why else? Enoch and Noah walked with God and they were warned ...they heard God. Abraham heard...and he obeyed because he KNEW the voice of Him who called. They received promises ...how? Joseph got them in dreams and visions as did king David....but they always KNEW who was speaking to them. 

 

Do you know HIS voice and HIS leading?

 

David the king prophesied this hope in the Psalms

Ps 16:9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope. 
10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 
11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.    NKJV
 

Also other prophets promised it for Israelites

Isa 26:19 Your dead shall live;
Together with my dead body they shall arise .
Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust;
For your dew is like the dew of herbs,
And the earth shall cast out the dead.    NKJV (Rev 20:13)
 
Dan 12:1   "At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book
2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt
3 Those who are wise shall shine 
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness 
Like the stars forever and ever.    NKJV
 
The Prophets spoke of a coming tribulation (aka ..the time of Jacobs trouble) which would be followed immediately by a resurrection of the dead, judgment and reward of the righteous AT THE SAME TIME.....a time Jesus described as "THE END OF THE (or) THIS AGE"
 
Jesus confirmed this would happen as he includes quotes from Daniel 12 in the following parable
 
Matt 13:36  And His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field." 
37 He answered and said to them: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.  38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.  39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.  40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.  41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness,  42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!      NKJV
 
Please note that under the Old Covenant Jesus said that there were many 'sons of the kingdom' who would be CAST OUT of the kingdom.... they had not found the righteousness of God but had sought to establish their OWN righteousness instead. (Mat 5:28, Mat 13:47-50, Mat 22:1-14, Luke 13:23-30)
 
 
Paul preached the imminent expectation of God's day of judgment which would be preceded by the resurrection ...
 
Acts 24:14  But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. 15 I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will (SOON = mello) be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.    NKJV
 
Brethren, please get this LOUD AND CLEAR.....it is the LAW and the Prophets (of the Law) that promised the resurrection for JUDGMENT of the just and the unjust!  ...and it was promised for a time shortly after Messiah's death (Dan 9:26). This would result in them being granted eternal life with God in His kingdom This was 'the hope of Israel' which all 'the dead' (i.e. the righteous saints of the Old Covenant) were waiting for.
 
 
The timing had to be soon because JESUS had said that ALL things that were written in the Law and in the prophets would be fulfilled WITHIN THAT GENERATION. Peter confirm this too.
 
 
Luke 21:32 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. NKJV (Mat 24:34, Mark 13:30)
 
Luke 24:44 Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."  45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. NKJV
 
Acts 3:24 Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. NKJV
 
These event were specifically promised for the end of the generation who Jesus came to...not to us 2000 years later.
 
 
Does something different happen to people at death today under the New Covenant?
 
 
Do all who die today still go to the grave and wait for a future judgment?
 
Well firstly we need to know that what the Law says, does NOT apply to us today. We are not 'under the Law' but under a NEW covenant of GRACE. (Rom 6:14)
 
Rom 3:19  Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law   NKJV
 
 
In the Old Covenant one became an Israelite by PHYSICAL birth and circumcision. Today God has no grandchildren....we all personally need to find Him and have a faith relationship with Him. The kingdom is now IMMATERIAL, INTANGIBLE and INVISIBLE. The Kingdom does not equate to 'church world'. Our parents can arrange for us to be baptised and sign us up for church membership but only our personal pursuit of God and His righteousness will result in us entering the kingdom (John 1:12-13, John 3:3-7). Today we are ADOPTED by God as His children when we are born of the Spirit.
 
Those who do not believe in Jesus have NO covenant with God. They have nothing that will enable them to live beyond this life.The scripture speaks of the fate of those who do not have a covenant with God
 
Isa 26:14   14 They (heathen/unbelievers) are dead, they will not live;
They are deceased, they will not rise.
Therefore You have punished and destroyed them,
And made all their memory to perish.   NKJV
 
 
Please note that DEATH is the punishment...not 'eternal damnation and hellfire'. For those who rejected the martyrs and killed Jesus a destruction by FIRE was promised in many places. Malachi 4 and Matt 23:29-36)
 
Rom 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. NKJV
 
 
 
According to the scriptures those who do not believe in Jesus are already dead spiritually (ie separated from relationship with God). When they perish or die physically they will return to dust UNLESS they have previously found LIFE in Christ while on earth.
 
 
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. NKJV
 
Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus   NKJV
 
 
We as believers under the New Covenant, do NOT have to wait to have to wait for a judgment to see if we have been good enough to be rewarded with eternal life.
 
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. NKJV
 
Condemnation is that those who have chosen NOT to seek for life ...or choose away do achieve it apart from God ... get what they want. At the end they PERISH...they are not tormented forever.
 
 
Unlike Old Covenant saints, we as believers today, do NOT have to wait for a judgment at the end of our age...or the end of the world. This is EMPHATICALLY the teaching of Jesus for the New Covenant.
 
John 5:25  "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. NKJV
 
John 8:51 Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death."  NKJV
 
For US as believers today, physical death is no more than a gateway into the manifest presence of God...our spiritual LIFE which is the Spirit of God Himself living in us, ensures this. Yes, there is a great sadness for those left behind who will miss the one who has gone to be with the Lord...but for them there is only GLORY.
 
 
If we do not believe, we are DEAD spiritually already.... and just waiting for the batteries to run out (death scripturally was the result of separation from our life source...i.e. relationship with God)
 
John 5:21  For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.  NKJV
 
Eph 2:1   And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins   NKJV
 
 
John 16:8 And when He (the Helper or Holy Spirit) has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment :  9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me;  10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;  11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.  NKJV
 

The only sin which keeps mankind dead today is the failure to believe in Jesus....as the one who was sent by God to reveal his love for us by dying for us. Jesus is God's judicial basis for forgiving ALL sin in those who believe...and qualifying and cleansing us so that we can be His children. Our sole role is to seek, come to or believe! 

 

Those who die today BELIEVING IN CHRIST, live on in Him ETERNALLY

John 11:24 Martha said to Him,"I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 
25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"     NKJV
 
 
John 10:27   My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perishneither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand.     NKJV
 
Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. NKJV
 
 
Brethren, look at the change that JESUS brought about. Martha (in vs 24) and the Jews knew only of a physical resurrection and judgment that was coming soon. What Jesus came to intoduce was a NEW covenant in which there is no judgement awaiting believers....IF you believe in Jesus you HAVE eternal LIFE. If you don't believe you remain dead and perish when your time on earth is done.
 

Do you believe Jesus?

 

So now when we look at Revelation 20:13 and we see that the judgment for each one was 'according to works' ...we can conclude that this passage applies to the Old Covenant.
 
 
Rev 20:14  Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  NKJV
 
Hades ...'sheol' as the place of waiting for the dead under the Old Covenant ...was emptied and destroyed in AD70. Death itself was destroyed when the Old Covenant came to an end because it was the LAW which caused sin to be imputed....and it was SIN which bought death.
 
 
Brethren for us, as NEW Covenant believers, DEATH is over....yes we physically pass from this temporal world into eternity but according to Jesus we do NOT DIE.... ie we will NEVER be seperated from His presence.
 
 
Do you believe Jesus?
 
 
 

Does Revelation Chapters 21 and 22 describe 'Heaven'....or is it referring to something else?

 

Rev 21:1 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. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. NKJV
 

Many look at the world today and say that this cannot be 'the New Jerusalem' thinking that this description refers to heaven iteself. They perceive heaven as a literal and physical place of great luxury and comfort. The scriptures however tell us that the Kingdom of Heaven which was ushered in by Jesus (Dan 7:13-14) refers to THE NEW COVENANT. It is the realm in which God today rules in the hearts of His children.... the realm in which we encounter Him.

Gal 4:21-26 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar —  25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children —  26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. NKJV
 
 
Heb 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. NKJV
 

Jerusalem which was prior to AD70 was the great HARLOT who had pursued idols and brought BONDAGE. We in the NEW COVENANT are FREE and children of God. The HEAVENLY JERUSALEM is the church whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life...those saved by Jesus shed blood and the New Covenant which it bought for us. (Mat 26:28)

 

In the resurrection for the believing Jews pror to AD70 (who formed the general assembly) or when today we as christians/believers in Jesus pass from this world into what many refer to as Heaven itself, we are told by Jesus that we will all be 'like the angels'. We are clearly not there yet in a physical sense....still being restricted by physical and mortal bodies.

That  however does not mean that the 'Kingdom of Heaven' is not here now. Those who have passed away as believers ARE THERE ALREADY! These are the 'cloud of witnesses' (Heb 12:1)...cheering us on.

 

Those who dream of a PHYSICAL heaven where the streets are literally 'GOLD' need to understand that the physical world is TEMPORAL and itself will pass away.

2 Cor 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. NKJV
 

 

Brethren, we need to realise that the kingdom of heaven is 'not of this world' ... it is in the spiritual realm... the realm of God, where He dwells in the hearts of His children throughout the generations.

John 4:21-24  Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.  22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.  23 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.  24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."   NKJV
 
 
Brethren, in the New Covenant God now dwells on earth in HIS CHILDREN...not in church buildings made by human hands (Acts 17:24, vs 1 Cor 3:16&17). We do not have to go on 'pilgrimages' to Jerusalem or anywhere else to find God.
 

Brethren in the New Covenant, we as believers ALL have direct access to God through Jesus ...in the new heavenly city. We are now part of the church UNIVERSAL...that which is registered in heaven and which comprises believers from throughout history.....and we ALL have direct access to Jesus as our High Priest IN THE NEW COVENANT today. 

 

Brethren in the Kingdom of heaven itself, today on earth, there is no sin. Yes there are sinners all around us BUT some have their robes washed in the blood of the Lamb and have been made perfect in Christ (Heb 10:14)...and then there are those who choose to remain outside

 

Rev 22:14 Blessed are those who do His commandments (NU 'wash their robes'), that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. NKJV
 
The Kingdom of Heaven is NOT a worldly organisation based in a physical place on earth (i.e. like any church organisation)....it is the SPIRITUAL reality of the New Covenant. (Gal 4:23-26) 
 
Those who follow God's commands and accept Jesus death for their righteousness are those who have 'washed their robes'...and can partake of the TREE of LIFE
 
But OUTSIDE there are sinners and those who love and practice a lie ... i.e. they deny God the Father and His love for us as expressed in Jesus
 
 
Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. NKJV
 
1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. NKJV
 
John 3:18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." NKJV
 
 
This is the world in which we as believers live today. It does not matter if we belong to any worldly church organisation. What matters is that we have our names written in the Lamb's Book of LIFE...and our robes washed in His blood...and that the fruit or the reality of our new birth is manifested by a transformation in our lives.
 
 
2 Tim 2:19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity."   NKJV
 
 
 
 
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