I have been asked a lot lately if I believe that”everyone is going to Heaven?” and the question always confuses me. I talk a lot about the Kingdom of God present and the whole world already being reconciled to God so we have the authority and power to release sins or retain them….But, I never talk about Heaven. Why do people so quickly go there? We don’t talk about Heaven much in our prayers or sermons, we talk about “The Kingdom come on earth just as it is in Heaven…”
But, when it comes to Jesus being the Savior of all mankind; people being “in or out” they automatically switch gears and start thinking about Heaven. But, Jesus didn’t talk about anyone going to Heaven…ever….
Seriously, think about it. The one time people often think Jesus talked about Heaven was when Jesus said ~ “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one cometh unto the Father buy through Me.”
Because he had said that he was going to prepare a “Place” for them ~ “2“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places (not mansions); if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.”
This was all before the Cross! The place Jesus prepared for us was IN HIM. Read Ephesians 1 and count more than 10 times that Paul said something to the effect of how God put us “In Christ”. Colossians 3 clearly declared that those who were crucified with Christ on the Cross were raised up with Him and ~”3For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”
This Gospel isn’t about people going up to Heaven; it’s about Heaven coming down to earth! Every believer is literally already with Christ in Heaven! (In our spirit man).
So where did we get the idea that the Gospel is about going to Heaven someday? Is it Scriptural?
Not according to the Bible.
THE NEW TESTAMENT WRITERS ~
Matthew, Mark Luke and John: Consider that Jesus never once mentioned anyone going up to Heaven. Never once!
Out of all the times the Gospel was recorded being preached in Acts; no one said anything about “Going to Heaven” someday. None.
When Paul articulated the Gospel in his most detailed letter to the Romans; he never once mentioned life in Heaven. Not one time!
These 6 books are the entire foundation for Christianity’s beliefs (at least that’s the theory). Wouldn’t we expect to see multiple mentions of an afterlife in Heaven?
Yet, there is not one mention.
1st and 2 Corinthians? NO.
Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians? No, no and no.
1 and 2 Thessalonians? No, There are a few verses that may have been taken that way but, once read in context are easy to refute. *See Below*
1st and 2nd Timothy? No and no.
Hebrews? A big no! In Hebrews 12, he said ~
“22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect…”
We have already come to Mt. Zion, the Heavenly Jerusalem … and the Church who is enrolled (registered) in Heaven! Just like Ephesians 1 &2 and Col.3; we are already in Heaven in Christ!
1st and 2nd Peter? No, no. 1 Peter 1:4,5 is clarified by 1:9 & 13, 5:1 (presently coming down)
1st, 2nd and 3rd John? Not even close.
That leaves us with the last and most complicated…The Revelation of Jesus Christ. Negative. This extremely symbolic book is focused on the reality of Heaven coming down to earth in that generation. This prophecy was a promise to that generation of believers that God’s Kingdom was very soon coming to them. That is the Beginning of the book and the end. However, it’s too in depth to complete in this blog, so it will have to wait until the next one.
Just consider the first promise from God in Revelation that could seem like it spoke about “Christians going up”.
Rev.3:12 ~ “12He who is overcoming — I will make him a pillar in the sanctuary (Temple) of my God, and without he may not go any more, and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, that doth come down (present tense) out of the heaven from my God — also my new name.
If they were promised to become literal pillars in a literal natural temple…first off that would be a really boring existence. Secondly, that Temple (and the people/pillars in it) would be coming down from Heaven at that time! The verb tense was not future but present tense.
Because just like Galatians 4 and Hebrews 12 made very clear; they were already in the New Jerusalem because it was a spiritual place. It simply means to be In Christ.
*I know that Thessalonians needs to be covered. Consider 1 Thess.4 ~
“13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
Admittedly this can sound like Jesus was bringing dead people back with him from Heaven, which would mean that the dead in Christ were in Heaven. However, we need to let the following verses clarify what Paul meant and not our own pre-conceptions.
“15For 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.16For 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. 17Then 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.18Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus (those who were already dead) Because the dead in Christ would rise first as the Lord descends. Notice that the dead were not coming down from God. Jesus was coming down (v.16a) and then the dead in Christ would rise up (16b) and all who were alive would rise up and meet the Lord in the air!
The dead were going to rise, which means they were not expected to come from above but from below. Paul clearly believed the dead were down and not up.
Paul wrapped it all up by stating that because of that either way, they would always be with the Lord.
This does not mean that the dead will be in Heaven. It means that wherever we do go when we die; the Lord is there. Remember; God is omnipresent.
I am not saying that Scripture proves no one will go to Heaven! Scripture simply doesn’t ever indicate that we will. My point is that “going to Heaven” is clearly NOT the message of the Gospel. Maybe God, doesn’t even want us to know…Let’s just stop spreading a Gospel that’s contrary to the truth that we do know!
The Good News is and always has been about the Kingdom of God on earth!
Let’s not get so focused on going to Heaven in the future that we neglect the Kingdom of God present.
The entire point of this is merely a reminder of what Jesus and the N.T. writers did declare about the Gospel. Heaven? Not a major theme. Kingdom of God on earth? Absolutely, the entire point!