This is a different sort of article. Have you ever heard a sermon or read a whole article — before right now, of course — that actually goes right down the line, scripture after scripture, and proves — from the Bible — that heaven is the reward of the saved, and that we go right to heaven when we die?
That's just what I thought!
Well, just continue reading. We'll remedy that situation right now.
Let's start right out with some of the many, many references all through the Gospel of Matthew which speak of "the kingdom of heaven." Now obviously that means a kingdom in heaven. The Bank of California is in California, and the Bank of America is in America — I'm sure it must be — well, anyway, its headquarters is. And the Bank of Morgan is in Morgan — well, I guess that must be an exception, because "of' always ought to mean "in," oughtn't it? But anyway, let's get back to the kingdom in heaven.
Christ Himself said: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:3). Now surely that proves it. Those who are not proud and haughty in attitude or spirit of mind will inherit the kingdom of heaven. He went on to say that if they are persecuted for righteousness' sake, "theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (verse 10), and "blessed are ye" when you are persecuted and falsely spoken evil of, for then "great is your reward in heaven" (verse 12). See that! That says "in heaven."
Don't you want to be among those who are going to go and get their reward IN heaven?
What's that? You don't think we are going to go to heaven to get our rewards? Why, Paul specifically wrote that our citizenship (correct translation) is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). And we are told all through the New Testament to lay up treasure for ourselves in heaven. You don't suppose there would be all those references to the saved having a treasure in heaven if we are never going to go there and claim it, do you? Why, there are so many verses I have neither time nor space to quote them, but you can look them up for yourself. What about Matthew 6:20 and 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 6:23 and 18:22; Colossians 1:5; I Peter 1:4? Notice that last one. It says our inheritance is kept there!
You say we're not going there? It's coming down to us? Why, that doesn't make much sense! I'd rather go there. How's that? Oh, yes, I know it does say in Revelation 22:12 that Christ is coming back to earth, bringing everybody's reward with him. But that's just one verse, and...
Well, that's off the subject anyway. Now notice that some are going to be great and some are going to be "least in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:19-20), and it talks about entering the kingdom of heaven. And Matthew 18:1-4 shows the same things again. Surely that proves we're going to leave the earth behind and live in heaven. Now doesn't it?
What? You think the Kingdom of heaven is a specific kingdom on earth? A government with laws and people and land, with Christ as King, that the saved will enter by being born again by resurrection from their graves (see Col. 1:18; Rom. 1:4; 6:5), just like being born in this life, for example, into the kingdom of the Netherlands? Hmph! That's not what I've been taught! In fact, none of the well-respected, established churches teach that! [Editor's note: We have a free booklet on this subject entitled Just What Do You Mean... Kingdom of God? Also, another booklet of interest: What Is The Reward Of The Saved?]
Justin Martyr what?! Considered those who believe souls go to heaven heretics? Now where do you get that? Chapter 80 of his Dialogue with Trypho? Yes, I know Justin was one of the earliest and greatest of the church fathers. Irenaeus didn't believe in going to heaven either? Nor other early Christians? Oh! Well, now let's look at some more of the proof we go to heaven. You know, when I think about all those great men of the Bible, I can hardly wait to get there and be with them. Noah, Abraham, Moses, David...
You say David's not in heaven? Well, why not? David is one of the greatest Old Testament saints! Oh, I know he committed some sins, but he repented. And we know he was saved, because he is going to be king over Israel again in the millennium (Jer. 30:9), and the Bible even says he was, or became, a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22). Acts 2:34? What does that say?
"For David is not ascended into the heavens"?
Well, maybe David didn't, but the rest did. No? Why not?
"No one has ascended into
heaven but... the Son of man [Jesus]" (John 3:13). "[God) hast made them [the dead in Christ) a kingdom [the kingdom of heaven, or kingdom of God, as all the New Testament writers except Matthew call it] and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth" (Rev. 5:10). How long? "They... reigned with Christ a thousand years [the millennium which Jeremiah said David would reign in)" (Rev. 20:4).
"Moreover, I also informed you that there are some who are Christians in name, but in reality are godless and impious heretics whose doctrines are entirely blasphemous, atheistic, and foolish. However, that you may be assured that I am not making this admission in your presence only, I promise to write up our whole debate in book form as well as I can, and in it I will insert the admission I just made to you, for I do not desire to be a follower of men and their teachings, but of God and His doctrines. If you have ever encountered any so-called Christians who do not believe this doctrine [of the millennium], but dare to blaspheme the God of Abraham and God of Isaac and the God of Jacob by asserting that there is no resurrection from the dead, but that their souls are taken up to heaven at the very moment of their death, do not consider them to be real Christians...."
Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 80
Well, anyway, Christians have a "house" in heaven to live in. II Corinthians 5:1-2 tells us that, and says it is "eternal in the heavens."
What? Now look, who's writing this article, anyway, you or me? OK, so it doesn't prove our spirit body or house is going to remain eternally in the heavens or that it will be there when we dwell in it. But the Bible does prove there are people III heaven.
Revelation 5:3 says "no man in heaven" was able to open the scroll, so there are men there. And Revelation 19:1 says there was a sound of "a great multitude in heaven." Just don't pay any attention to these newfangled modern translations that change those scriptures. Who do they think they are, anyway, claiming the Greek text is superior to the good old King James Bible!
And why do you suppose Paul wanted to "depart and be with Christ" (Phil. 1:23) if people don't go to heaven? He was anxious to die because he would immediately be with Christ in heaven. It doesn't say that? Oh, I know it doesn't exactly say it, but that's what it means. You mean, you would rather believe Paul wanted to die just to be finished with all the labor and persecution he had to suffer, even though he knew he would remain unconscious for thousands of years until the resurrection and the second coming of Christ?
Yes, I know by then he was an old man and tired, and maybe ailing, and death would come as a welcome relief. OK, you go ahead and believe Christians don't go to heaven, if you want to. I've tried my best to teach you the truth.
Oh, all right, if you insist! I concede the words "going to heaven" or "when we all get to heaven" are not found anywhere in the Bible. What's that? Uh, no, I don't guess I was really able to prove we will go to heaven at death. But surely I have taught you something profitable in this article. I sure hope so.