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Heaven, Hell, "Immortal" Soul, and the Resurrection!

The subject of the immortal soul and going to heaven or hell at "death" is probable the most commonly believed concept which runs throughout Christianity. However, you may be in for a shock when you see what the Bible really has to say about going to heaven or hell, and the subject of life and death.

This article is somewhat lengthy, but the topic is so misunderstood, and leads many Christians into a wrong doctrinal belief system that is incorrect, and there needs to be a thorough discussion so you can see the proof for yourself, even from the mouth of Christ Himself.

The first thing you need to realize is that nowhere in all the Bible does it state that mankind goes to heaven at death. In fact, what exactly is "death" anyway?

Heb 9:27 "And as it is appointed to men once to die..."

So, what does "die" and "death" actually mean? Most Christians don't believe people really die, they just go some place else after their body dies, and either live forever in heaven or live forever in hell fire, because they "have" an immortal soul", but is this really "death"?

Then, there's the question of the need for a "resurrection" if everyone is already in heaven or hell, or does "resurrection" mean something else besides being raised from the "dead"?

Remember to read each scripture in context with the scriptures above and below the verse in question. The only way to fully understand this topic is to find out what the Bible says, or doesn't say, about hell, death and the immortal soul, and where Christ will be at the resurrection.


Let's start with the topic of "hell" to begin laying the groundwork for this study. There are actually four distinctly different words translated "hell" in the Bible:

  1. The first is shehole', Hebrew, meaning - grave, hell, pit - Used in the Old Testament)

  2. The second is Hades: NT:86 haides hah'-dace); Greek, meaning grave. Used in the New Testament)

    Hell referenced above simply means the grave where people are buried.

  3. The third word is geenna {gheh'-en-nah} Hebrew, meaning - hell, hell fire. This was originally taken from the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where trash and dead animals and bodies of criminals were cast into and where they decomposed, or burned completely up with nothing left but ashes.

  4. The fourth word translated "hell," is tartaroo, {tar-tar-o'-o} from Tartaros, Greek, meaning - cast down to hell. It is used only once in all the Bible, in 2 Peter 2:4 "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast [them] down to hell, and delivered [them] into chains of darkness, to be reserved to judgment."

    This word is used to describe a place of restraint for the angels that sinned and is never used in reference to human beings.

Hell is envisioned by most people as a place of ever burning fire that torments and tortures, forever, those who are evil.

This concept was derived, in large part, from Dante's Inferno, an unbiblical discourse on what happens to people who are "evil." We have seen that there are four words translated into the English word "hell." Three of the four have different meanings, with two meaning the same thing... the grave, and is by far the most common usage.

The grave is the actual biblical definition of hell when referring to death and a "place" humans go at death. Hell fire or the lake of fire" is another "hell" that refers to the end time and destruction of evil. We cannot trust in human definitions or imaginations on what God is referring to when He uses the word "hell." Nowhere does it refer to an ever-burning place of torture where people that are evil go to when they die, any more than heaven is a place where "good" people go when THEY die.

We will bring all this together later in this discussion.

Let's now go over scriptural references of the word "soul" and how it truly relates to mankind.

The word translated "soul" in the Old Testament is from the Hebrew word, nephesh {neh'-fesh}, (used about 419 times with a few words translated "soul" using other words) meaning
1) soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion
1a) that which breathes, the breathing substance or being, soul, the inner being of man
1b) living being
1c) living being with life in the blood)
1d) the man himself, self, person or individual
1e) seat of the appetites
1f) seat of emotions and passions
1g) activity of mind
1h) activity of the will
1i) activity of the character

The word "nephesh" is used 734 times in the Old Testament, as "creature," "the lads life," "person," "mind," "the life of," "lust," "man," "heart of," "any," "yourselves," "for the dead," "beast," "dead body," "body of," "mortally," "slay," "at thine own pleasure," "our lives," "me," "thy life," "with the lives of," "himself," "in jeopardy of their lives," "his breath," "deadly," "the will of," "appetite," "desire," "fish," "greedy," "the ghost," "should he slay thee."

In the New Testament (Greek), the word "soul" is used 19 times, and is translated from the word "psuche," which means "breath, abstractly or concretely the animal sentient principle only;)"

In all the above definitions, do you see even one place that suggests to you that the "soul" never dies? Let's continue.

Genesis 2:17, But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.

Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin [is] death.

James 5:20 "Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins."

1 Cor. 15:45, "And so it is written, The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a quickening (life-giving) spirit.

Adam became a living soul... his body didn't "receive" something that was spirit/immortal, we "ARE" souls.

Ezek 18:4 and 20, "The soul that sins, it shall die." If the soul is "immortal" how can it die? The penalty for sin is death. Christ didn't pay some other ethereal "death" sentence. He was dead for three days and three nights*, but death could not hold Him because of His perfect life. If we pay for our own sins, we die and stay dead forever.

*(Matt 12:40 "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.")

Psalms 7:2 "Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver."

Ps 124:2 "If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, When men rose up against us, 3 Then they would have swallowed us alive, When their wrath was kindled against us; 4 Then the waters would have overwhelmed us, The stream would have gone over our soul; 5 Then the swollen waters Would have gone over our soul."

Every use of the word soul in the Old Testament simply means life/body or some equivalent. In fact, animals are called "souls" as well, as we shall see.

The above scriptures tell us, quite plainly, that a soul is flesh and CAN die.

Lev 17:12 "Therefore I said to the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourns among you eat blood."

Isa 29:8 "It shall even be as when a hungry man dreams, And look - he eats; But he awakes, and his soul is still empty; Or as when a thirsty man dreams, And look - he drinks; But he awakes, and indeed he is faint, And his soul still craves:"

Isa 57:16 "For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made.

Ps 84:2 "My soul longs, yes, even faints For the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God."

How can souls, if they are not physical flesh, eat, drink or crave or faint?

Notice these next few scriptures... how they focus on the soul and the dead, and how they are physical, temporary things...

Ps 88:10 "Will You work wonders for the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise You?" NKJV

If the "dead" are really "alive" somewhere, why would David say something so contrary?

Ps 115:17 "The dead do not praise the LORD, Nor any who go down into silence." NKJV

Going down into silence means going into hell, the grave, unconscious and waiting for the resurrection. If the "dead" were in heaven, wouldn't they be praising God there?

Ps 119:175 "Let my soul live, and it shall praise You;" NKJV

Ps 23:3 "He restores my soul;"

Ps 146:1 "Praise the LORD, O my soul! 2 While I live I will praise the LORD; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being." NKJV

Lev 23:27 "And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 27 "Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls..."

"Afflict you soul" is a biblical expression for fasting... no food and water for 24 hours, which is a bit if a challenge if you've never done it, and certainly is "afflicting" our body. Something that is spiritual in nature such as an "immortal soul" doesn't fit the bill.

  • Isa. 53:10 "Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering..." NIV
  • Isa. 53:10 "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin..." NKJV

Notice this is Christ's "LIFE" that is given, not something spiritual inside him, and certainly not just a body that died (discussed below). The "soul" is the life, the body... and Christ's "soul" died on that cross.

Ps 39:13 "Remove Your gaze from me, that I may regain strength, Before I go away and am no more."

Isa. 38:18 "For Sheol (grave) cannot thank You, Death cannot praise You; Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth. :19 "The living, the living man, he shall praise You, As I do this day;" NKJV

Why would David or Isaiah be concerned about an "eternal soul" dying and not being able to praise God as they can when alive?

Notice what it states about Christ Himself:

Isa. 53:12 "Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors."

Isaiah speaks of Christ, and tells us that Christ didn't "have" a "soul," He WAS a soul, which He willingly gave up... His "soul," His life, TO DEATH... for all mankind. He wasn't alive somewhere else those three days in the grave...

Rev 1:18 "I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."

Rev 2:8 "These things says the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;"

Christ is speaking here about Himself. He states clearly that He was "DEAD!" He was dead for three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Lifeless. His "soul," His life, ended that first day, and was brought back at the end of the third day, Saturday evening just at sundown.

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

Notice Isaiah speaks of his dead body "rising" back to life. He is lifeless today, his "soul" is waiting that rising when the resurrection occurs. (Side note: All flesh decomposes over time back to "dust" so the resurrection will be of the "spirit in man" recording" of our lives and minds as a new spirit body). (NOTE: This spirit is NOT the "soul," but is the spiritual component to humankind which creates our minds, our ability to think, reason, create, etc. It is actually a spiritual component God gave that sets us apart from animal mind, and which records our character and nature for later, when the resurrection to new bodies takes place...Heb 12:23 " the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, (not IN heaven) to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect...")

Heb 6:1 "Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment."

It states that the basic doctrines of ongoing repentance, faith, etc., are just the foundation from which God builds, leading us eventually to "perfection."

Luke 12:16 "Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: 'The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' 18 So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.' 20 But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?'"

Luke clearly speaks of the rich man who was hording all his riches for himself, but didn't realize that his "soul," his life... would end that night, and he would no longer have any of those riches. His "soul" ended because he died and went to the grave to await the second resurrection.

James 4:12 "There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy."

Josh 10:28 "And that day Joshua took Makkedah, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof he utterly destroyed, them, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain: and he did to the king of Makkedah as he did to the king of Jericho.

Josh 11:11 "And they smote all the souls (nephesh) that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire." KJV - Josh 11:11 "And they struck all the people who were in it with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them. There was none left breathing. Then he burned Hazor with fire." NKJV

Rev 6:9 "When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.

Destroyed all the souls? Souls being slain? If the soul was a spiritual, and "immortal" thing, it could NOT be destroyed or "slain", correct? Nothing is eternal or immortal about a human's life itself.

Look at this: In Genesis 1:24, it says "And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so."

The word translated "creature," referring to animals, is the SAME exact word used regarding the "soul" with mankind.

Genesis 2:7, And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Notice, it doesn't say man "received" a soul, but that the dust of the ground (flesh) is what became the soul. Mankind was created a "soul," and does not "have" a soul, just as animals ARE souls... flesh and blood and can die.

What is DEATH?

The word translated "die" is "muwth" {mooth}, Hebrew, meaning:

1) to die, kill, have one executed.
1a1) to die
1a2) to die as penalty), be put to death
1a3) to die, perish of a nation)
1a4) to die prematurely by neglect of wise moral conduct)

The words translated "death" in the New Testament are as follows:

NT: 2288 thanatos than'-at-os); from NT:2348; properly, an adjective used as a noun) death: - deadly, be ... death.

NT:615 apokteino ap-ok-ti'-no); from NT:575 and kteino to slay); to kill outright; figuratively, to destroy: - put to death, kill, slay.

NT:337 anaireo an-ahee-reh'-o); from NT:303 and the active of) NT:138; to take up, i.e. adopt; by implication, to take away violently), i.e. abolish, murder: - put to death, kill, slay, take away, take up.

NT:599 apothnesko ap-oth-nace'-ko); from NT:575 and NT:2348; to die off literally or figuratively): - be dead, death, die, lie a-dying, be slain X with).

NT:520 apago ap-ag'-o); from NT:575 and NT:71; to take off in various senses): - bring, carry away, lead away), put to death, take away.

NT:336 anairesis an-ah'-ee-res-is); from NT:337; the act of) killing: - death.

Where did the deception that we don't die begin?

Gen 3:4, "And the serpent said to the woman, Ye shall not surely die:"

Satan lies to them in the beginning telling them that they won't die if they go their own way and make their own decisions disregarding what is good or bad and God's simple commands. Simply put, God told them they would die, and Satan told them they wouldn't. Whom should we believe? If we accept the "immortal soul" theory, then Satan is exactly right and spoke the truth... calling God a liar, because something "immortal" CANNOT die, correct?

Gen 3:4, And the serpent said to the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

Satan lies to them in the beginning telling them that they won't die if they go their own way.

KEY Scripture... 1 Tim 6:16 "...who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen." NKJV

This scripture alone should raise eyebrows and stir us up enough to look deeper for the reality behind that statement. God ALONE has immortality. No human has it, except Christ, who was raised from the dead at His resurrection, just as those called and converted will be raised from the dead in the first resurrection at Christ's return.

Rom. 2:7 "... To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. NIV

Rom. 2:7 "... eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; NKJV

Notice that this shows that humans do not yet have anything "immortal" but we are seeking it, and will be given it at the resurrection if we "endure to the end"...

Matt 10:22-23 "But he who endures to the end will be saved." NKJV Matt 24:13 "But he who endures to the end shall be saved." NKJV Mark 13:13 "But he who endures to the end shall be saved." NKJV

Remember, death means death, till the resurrection to life once again...

Genesis 3:19, "In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you [art], and to dust shall you return." 3:23 "Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken." 

Man was created using the physical elements... matter. He is nothing more than that aside from the "spirit in man" discussed below.

Luke 13:3 "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." NKJV

The "soul" is dust, not some eternal element that lives on as "us" in heaven or hell.

Ecclesiastes 3:19 "For that which happens to the sons of men, happens to beasts; even one thing happens to them: as the one dies, so dies the other; yes, they have all one breath; so that a man has no preeminence above a beast. :20 All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust."

God's word plainly tells us that animals and humans experience the same kind of death... that of going to dust when they die because they decompose, and have no consciousness of anything. They are lifeless, just like an animal when it dies.

Ecclesiastes 9:5, "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory (thoughts, mind) of them is forgotten."

Ecclesiastes 9:10, "Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do [it] with your might; for [there is] no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you go."

Ecclesiastes 12:7, "Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it."

This "spirit" is not what many think is the "soul", as the above article link to "spirit" proves.

Isaiah 26:14, "[They are] dead, they shall not live; [they are] deceased, they shall not rise: therefore have you visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory (thoughts) to perish."

Matthew 10:28, "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (gehenna)."

You see a distinction made here between "body" and "soul." The point being made is that if a person dies, they don't have to worry about their future if they responded to God. Their future "life" is in God's hands in the resurrection to a spirit body. Death is not the final state for those who respond to God, but God CAN destroy someone's life/consciousness AND the physical body as well, and THIS is the point Christ is making.

Christ used the word "destroy," in reference to both soul and body in hell, not sent to hell to live forever in pain and agony. "Destroy" comes from NT:622, apollumi (ap-ol'-loo-mee); and means "to destroy fully, to perish, or lose: KJV - destroy, die, lose, mar, perish."

Mt. 3:12 "Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the granary, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

2 Thes. 1:9, "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;"

This isn't an eternal life place of torment. This fire "destroys" what goes into it. Ceases all life and consciousness. "Everlasting destruction!" Does this sound like eternal life in a burning hell? Remember God's "GIFT" is eternal life. Burning forever in a hell fire is also eternal life, but is this a gift? The penalty for sin is DEATH!

Dan 12:13 "As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance. "NIV

Dan 12:13 "But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days." NKJV

Job 14:13 "Oh, that You would hide me in the grave, That You would conceal me until Your wrath is past, That You would appoint me a set time, and remember me! (Resurrection) 14 If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, Till my change comes." NKJV

Dan 12:13  But go your way till the end be: for you shall rest, and stand in your lot at the end of the days.

The above scriptures clearly show that this refers to death being a sleep... unconscious and waiting for life to be granted once again.


Moving on, some believe the following scriptures "prove" people go to heaven because they believe Enoch and Elijah did...

Gen 5:23 "Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away." NIV

Heb. 11:5 "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God."

"Translated" is "metatithemi" and means "to transfer to another place." There is a preconceived idea being read into this scripture. It merely says God took Enoch... who "lived for 365 years." He didn't "live" for 365 years, and then go on "living" when God took him. We have to be very careful in trying to force scriptures to say things we want them to say. Enoch died as did Moses...

2 Kings 2:11 " they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven."

Elijah was taken up into the sky, which is essentially the "first" heaven. (Gen. 1:8). The "second" heaven is space (Gen. 15:5) and the "third" heaven is God's throne. (2 Cor. 12:2, (such a one was caught up to the "third" heaven). God simply moved them from one spot to another on Earth. Elijah was later mentioned in the bible long after this event, (2 Chronicles 21:12-15, and there was a letter he wrote after this event), so he wasn't taken into God's "third" heaven as some believe. He is now dead/asleep awaiting the resurrection, like Moses, David and all others who have lived and died.

Remember "no one has ascended to heaven" as Christ tells us. (John:3:13). Is Christ mistaken about that?

John 12:32 "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die."

Christ was "lifted up from the earth" through the crucifixion on the cross, as John clearly signifies Christ meant. Christ died.

Death is equated to sleep...

Deut 31:14 "Then the LORD said to Moses,"Behold, the days approach when you must die;" :16 And the LORD said to Moses: 'Behold, you will rest with your fathers;'"

Deut 34:5 "So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. 6 And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day. :7 His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished."

Most people assume Moses was taken up to heaven, but this is not true. Although Moses did not die of "old age," and was still strong and full of life, God took his life... he died, and Moses is still in "hell", the grave, "resting" till his resurrection at Christ's return.

2 Sam 7:12 "And when your days be fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, which shall proceed out of your bowels, and I will establish his kingdom."

Talking about King David, "sleeping" with his fathers...

1 Kings 2:10 "So David slept with his fathers and was buried."

In Kings and Chronicles, the phrase "slept with his fathers" is used 35 times for the named kings. No mention of going to heaven or hell for any these kings, just "sleeping" as all the others before them are yet asleep waiting for the resurrection to life again. Notice that even King David himself knew that he would be asleep in the grave till the resurrection to spirit life as Christ and the Father have...

Ps 17:15, "As for me, I will behold your face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with your likeness."

Jer. 30:9 "But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them."

David is dead, waiting to wake up... likely nothing remains of his physical body this late in the human physical experience.

Psalm 6:5 "For in death [there is] no remembrance of you: in the grave who shall give you thanks?"

Psalm 115:17 "The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence." (Dead is dead.)

Psalm 146:4 "His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; (dust to dust) in that very day his thoughts perish."

Would people who supposedly go to heaven have any remembrance of God, give Him thanks or praise Him, or have any thoughts at all in heaven? David continually spoke about death being so empty. If he believed he would instantly be in heaven at his death, why would be speak about death in such a way? Would people supposedly suffering in hell fire forever have any thoughts? Don't the above scriptures make death sound pretty unconscious and lifeless?

Heb 11:4 "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks."

Righteous Abel, through His faith and belief in God in offering a proper sacrifice, THOUGH DEAD, still "speaks" to the living through his works. If he's righteous, wouldn't he be in heaven if that were a true destination of all those who are righteous when they die?

1 Cor. 15:12 "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13: But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15: Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: (From the dead) whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16: For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18: Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. (Will have no resurrection to life if there is no such thing as the resurrection from death) 19: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (Meaning after living a few short years and then dying, with no resurrection BACK to life, it is pretty hopeless) 20: But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept."

1Co 15:49 "And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. 15:51  Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 15:52  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 15:55 O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? 15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 15:57 But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 

This Ch. 15 "resurrection chapter" clearly discusses the firstfruits in Christ who are now dead, being resurrected in the first resurrection... losing the image of the earthy (flesh and blood) physical body which they were composed of, and receiving an "incorruptible" new body that is composed of spirit. Notice that all flash is called "corruptible" and "mortal", meaning, at death, it eventually decomposes back to dust as the natural system works on it.

Paul is clearly discussing the "dead in Christ" - those that have died in the faith, and are asleep, waiting the resurrection, just like Christ was asleep/dead for those three full days and three full nights, and was resurrected to life again, as the FIRST so born once again, FROM the dead. Notice Paul states that if the resurrection from the dead would not occur, then those who are "dead in Christ" (converted and saved, who have died and are dead in the grave) would PERISH. If they are supposedly in heaven, how could they perish, and WHY would they perish, and, of course, again, why would a resurrection even be needed? The same can be said for all those who were or are not converted in this age... they are also dead, but not "in Christ" as yet, and will be resurrected to physical life again to be provided their only chance to understand God's truth. Let's continue with more scriptural proofs...

2 Cor. 4:14 "Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you."

Paul discusses how God "shall raise up us" just as Christ was resurrected from death to life. This occurs after they die and are buried, and when Christ returns to this earth, the first resurrection, and the millennial reign of Christ and the saints.

Matt 27:51 "At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. 52 The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people." NIV

If the saints are in heaven, why would scriptures speak about them having "died" but being "raised to life?" Wouldn't they already be "alive" in heaven? It is obvious that they were dead, "asleep" in the grave and came to life as a witness of the Christ. They weren't in heaven!

Luke 24:4 "And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen!" NKJV

Mark 9:31 "For He taught His disciples and said to them, "The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise (from death) the third day." NKJV

In addition, if death is "separation from God," as many conclude, why would Paul call those who "died" in the faith "dead in Christ?" Wouldn't that mean they are separated from Christ and the Father? "If the dead rise not..." Rise from what? If they are "dead," (separated from God) does "rising" (resurrection) remove the "separation from God," and restore them TO God? We have to be consistent in all this.

Breaking into the discussion of martyrs who are figuratively portrayed as "waiting" for vengeance on their enemies...Rev 6:11 "And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled."

There are several points to consider in these scriptures; 1. That these saints who died in the past... even thousands of years ago... were figuratively told that they should "rest yet for a little season..." If these saints were alive in heaven, what necessity should there be for "rest" since they would not "need" rest? And, notice that "rest" substantiates the concept of "sleep," or physical death, waiting the resurrection. 2. This scripture continues and states... "until it be fulfilled that both their fellow servants and their brethren also would be killed, (die) just as they had been."

Let's look at more scriptures regarding what DOES happen to mankind at death?

When we die, we are dead, buried (or whatever method of dealing with the body), and have no consciousness whatsoever. It is like sleep, only there are no dreams or any awareness of anything...

Matt 9:24, "He said to them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleeps. And they laughed him to scorn."

Mark 5:39, "And when he was come in, he said to them, Why make you this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleeps."

John 11:11, "These things said he: and after that he said to them, Our friend Lazarus sleeps; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep."

John 11:12, "Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14 Then said Jesus to them plainly, Lazarus is dead."

Here, Jesus compares death with sleep. When you sleep, you aren't aware of passing time. Death is simply a state of "unconsciousness" brought about by death that we have to be "awoken" from in the resurrection, by receiving life back. It is at this time that we are judged by what we did, and the next stage in our future commences.

If Lazarus died, wouldn't he have "gone to heaven?" Why take someone supposedly already in heaven, and bring them back to physical life again? Would YOU want to give up heaven for physical life again? Christ stated He was going to "awaken him out of sleep." Lazarus was dead, unconscious in that tomb, wrapped in cloth. Christ brought him back to physical life and consciousness.

John 11:23 Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again. :24  Martha said to him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

Martha here provides evidence of the fact that death means "dead" and not alive in heaven or hell. She understood the purpose of the resurrection... that to raise all that have died back to life, in their own time and resurrection.

Luke 8:52 And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleeps. :53  And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.


Christ stated that the maid was "not dead, but sleeps." This is because He was the source of all life and could bring her back to life, which He did. She was unconscious, not alive somewhere else.

John 5:28, "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation (judgment)." In other words, the second resurrection to physical life where they will have a lifetime to grow in the truth and and be judged just as the church is being judged today.

1 Th 4:13, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. :14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. :15 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 by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first." NKJV

Remember above where it talked about the "dead in Christ?" 1 Thes. 14 talks about those who "sleep in Jesus." Both refer to death, awaiting the resurrection to life at Christ's return. How can the "dead in Christ" mean someone who is alive somewhere else? The "dead in Christ" means they are dead, in their graves, asleep, waiting the resurrection but are "in Christ" because they died in the body of Christ, the church, with God's Holy Spirit, and were "in Christ at that moment. Dead does NOT mean living somewhere else.

Dan 12:2, "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."

Remember Paul's own words...

Phil 3:10 "...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."

Notice Paul realizes that after death, ONLY through the resurrection will he receive life again.

This, of course, is the VERY end time being discussed and the third resurrection, so how can people "sleep in the dust of the earth" if they are in heaven or hell already?

Matthew 24:31, "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven (first to the other."

Ask yourself this question: If people go to heaven or hell when they die, then what do the above scriptures (and many others like it) say? WHY have a resurrection if people are already in one place or the other? Notice it says in John 5, " All that are IN THE GRAVES... SHALL COME FORTH" How can you be in the grave and in heaven or hell, too? Also, if they are in heaven, aren't they already incorruptible before the resurrection? Why say "dead raised incorruptible" if they are already in heaven incorruptible?

Rev 6:8 "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him." KJV

Death and hell, which is the grave...

Rev 20:13, "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell (hell=Greek, "hades," meaning grave) delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

Let's analyze the above scriptures.

  1. The sea is giving up the people who died in it.
  2. The grave is giving up the dead in the ground.
  3. Death and hell (grave) are cast into the lake of fire, which is called "the second death".
  4. Those not found in the book of life are cast into the lake of fire.

Do any of these points say anything about people being in heaven or burning in hell? NO! It speaks very clearly about people who have died in the past (the first death) are still considered to be in the grave, despite there being nothing left of their bodies in most cases.

What is the "first death" referring to regarding people who are supposedly in heaven? What does "death" mean for people supposedly in heaven? Death of their bodies only?

And... how can "hell" (the alleged place of "eternal" fire) be cast into "hell"? This "lake of fire" is allegedly the place where people believe others will burn forever, and is called the "second death", meaning extinction and complete destruction of all that goes into it. This means death will cease, and graves will cease, and anyone who is not found in the book of life will be utterly destroyed, and have no more consciousness.

Death means death. Just do a word study of "death and die," and do one on "eternal life..." Whether living in heaven, or burning in hell forever, they both are "eternal life" aren't they? You can't have the clear discussion that the reward of God for obeying Him is eternal life, yet also have eternal life when burning forever in hell.

Here are some examples to consider about death and that it simply is like "sleeping", but unconscious, in the grave:

  • 2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." NKJV
  • Ps 116:15 "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints." NKJV
  • Gen 50:25 "Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, "God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here." 26 So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt." Ex 13:19 " And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had placed the children of Israel under solemn oath, saying,"God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here with you." NKJV
  • Deut 34:5 "So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. 6 And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. 7 And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated." KJV

Notice, Moses did NOT die of old age. He was healthy and very much alive when God took his life. Moses went to sleep and was buried. His body was hidden by God.

  • Jude :9 "...Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses..." NKJV

Satan wanted to do "something" with the body of Moses, but God prevented it. Moses died and is waiting the resurrection.

  • Rev 20:5 "But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished." NKJV
  • Rom. 8:22 "For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body." NKJV

The entirety of Ch. 15 of 1 Corinthians addresses the resurrection of all the dead from past history and all that will be in the grave between now and one of the three resurrections. We can't have all these scriptures about being raised from the dead, AND being in heaven or hell after we die. Read the entire chapter but not specifically the following...

  • 1 Co 15:26 "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." (If death doesn't really mean "death", why would it need to be destroyed? If we don't really "die" - go to heaven or hell instead - why would death have to be destroyed? That is because death holds ever human ever alive, except for Christ... that includes Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob... EVERY human who has ever lived and died is still dead and asleep.)

  • 1 Co 15:29  Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? :30  And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?  :31  I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. :32  If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die." (This is merely telling us that why should living people continue to be baptized to replace the dead saints if the dead saints will not be later resurrected???)
  • 1 Cor. 15:42 "So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." NIV
  • 1 Co 15:45  "And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit." (Made a living soul... this is what man "IS, not what he "has").

  • 1 Cor. 15:51 "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (No one is "immortal" until the first resurrection...) 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory. :55 O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?"

We shall not all "sleep..." Death is a sleep, unless it is the "second" death, which is forever... no resurrection... just eternally not existing. Notice, another "mystery" related directly to the issue that no human has anything immortal and ONLY through the resurrection of life will "immortality" be received by any human. The context of the above scriptures explains that physical life is perishable and can ONLY clothed... put on... immortality. Now, all humans are "asleep" (waiting for their own resurrection...1 Cor. 15:20).

  • Regarding the two witnesses of God... Rev 11:11 "Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them." NKJV

Notice that the two witnesses are dead in the streets of Jerusalem, not in heaven. This resurrection occurs at Christ's return, and these two join the rest of the saints who are also resurrected and join Christ "in the air"...

1 Thes. 4:16 "And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." NKJV

How many scriptures does it take to prove death means death? We simply cannot make "death" to mean something other than what the word means throughout the bible.

The bottom line is this. All who have ever died are simply unconscious, dead, lifeless and unaware of anything at the moment. When the resurrections occur (there is more than one) these people will again have consciousness and awareness. They are given life once again, some to spirit life and some to physical flesh once again, discussed shortly.

Why go through the motions of taking people from heaven and an ever burning hell, go through a "resurrection," (whatever that means if they are really alive somewhere else), pass judgment on them and then return them to heaven or cast them back into the lake of fire? Does this make any Biblical sense?

Why even have a judgment if all these dead have already been judged by the very fact of where they supposedly are... either in heaven, or burning in hell?

All men "die" once. Christ died once and was laid in the grave for three full days and three full nights...

Psalms 16:10, "For you will not leave my soul in hell; (grave) neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption."

Rom. 6:3 "Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. (the "second" death has no power... Rev 20:6) 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God." NIV

Death does NOT mean "separation from God." If it did, then how is it they are free from sin after "dying" and allegedly being separated from God?

Isa. 53:10 "When You make His soul an offering for sin..."

Christ's life was the offering for sin, not some separate thing "in" Christ.

Here we have a quote of David speaking a prophecy about Christ...

Acts 2:27 "Because you will not leave my soul in hell, neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption. 2:31 He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption."

Here, in the New Testament, Peter discusses this very scripture and its meaning. What did he say?

  1. He first mentions the resurrection of Christ.
  2. That Christ was NOT left in hell, the grave but was resurrected to life again.
  3. That Christ's body didn't decompose or begin to rot away, like Lazarus's body would have begun to do after 4 days. (It only takes a few hours before a human body begins to go through some very nasty changes if left to itself), but the Father prevented this from happening to Christ.

If Christ were really in heaven after He died (which one would certainly have to believe if other good people who died were in heaven after they died), then why this talk of "leaving His 'soul' in hell?"

How could His "soul" be "left" in hell, the grave, if all souls go to either heaven or hell after death, or if Christ's 'soul" was wandering around elsewhere? Why the specific points about Christ NOT being left in the grave if His "soul" was already in heaven or in some other place? Why discuss His body not decomposing in the ground? Remember, when Christ was resurrected... He plainly told Mary to NOT touch Him because He had NOT yet ascended to His Father, (Wave Sheaf)...

John 20:17 "Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not ; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." KJV

... so Christ was NOT in heaven, or any other place those three days in the grave. He was dead, and upon His resurrection, He THEN went to the Father to be accepted as the "Wave Sheaf" and returned to earth. He wasn't out and about elsewhere without first fulfilling that vitally important roll of the Wave Sheaf, and going to be accepted by the Father as the ultimate, perfect sacrifice upon His resurrection.

Can you imagine all the other righteous saints supposedly "going to heaven" at death, and Christ having to stay in the grave for three days before being resurrected? Does this make sense? Why leave our very savior in the grave for three days and allow everyone else to "go to heaven" when THEY died?

Lastly, take a look at these scriptures:

Matt 12:41 "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it,"

Notice that Christ is plainly speaking of two generations of people that will "rise up" together in the judgment (second resurrection). This rising up is from their graves, to a new physical life.

John 6:40, "And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."

John 6:44 "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."

If people are in heaven after they die, why would Christ mention that they would "rise up," or that He would be raising them up... ON THE LAST DAY? This clearly shows additional proof that the dead are still dead, in their graves, just like King David is, and are awaiting the resurrection. You don't have to raise anyone "up" if they are already in heaven!

Rev. 1:17-18, "And when I saw him, I fell at his feet, as dead. And he put his right hand on me, saying to me, do not fear. I am the first and the last, and the Living One; and I became dead; and behold, I am living forever and ever. Amen. And I have the keys to Hades, (grave) and of death."

Jesus has the authority and power to unlock the grave and resurrect those who reside there. (See Acts 10:42; Rom.. 14:9).

Rev 18:11, "The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more— 12 cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13 cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of men.

Bodies = NT:4983 soma (so'-mah); from NT:4982; the body (as a sound whole), used in a very wide application, literally or figuratively: bodily, body, slave.

Soul is the same "psuche" as explained at the beginning of this article.

How can merchants deal with other people's "souls" if they are immortal? The "bodies and souls" mentioned in Rev. 18:11 is merely discussing dealing with the life and death of other human beings, perhaps in slavery, as well as employees or servants, and even in body parts... organs being harvested, etc. Even today, people are abducted and killed for their valuable body parts for others.

One additional point to consider on the issue of what death is and what it means biblically for mankind. The biblical sacrifices set up by God were a foreshadow of the sacrifice Christ made. These animals were killed, slaughtered, and their blood used to signify the future death that Christ had to bear. In what way do these sacrifices reveal anything about supposed immortal souls? How does the death of probably a billion or more animals over the centuries, right up to 70 AD when the temple was destroyed, point to death not really being death? Was the "death" these animals receive anything less than real death?

How can animal deaths reveal anything but the penalty for sin as being actual, real, and eternal, death? It should be clear by now that the soul is not eternal. Humans require a resurrection to receive new life and a NEW spirit body, or back to physical life once again if not called in this age.

Common scriptural arguments in support of going to Heaven or Hell

Given the proof of the "soul" and death above, let's look at several scriptures used by many to validate their belief in going to heaven or hell. The first involves the story of "Lazarus and the rich man," Luke 16:19. A word by word study of this sequence will reveal the actual events being described, but let's look at just a few:

Breaking into the story flow... Luke 16:22, "And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom - (not heaven): the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell (the grave) he lift up his eyes (resurrected to physical life and is suddenly aware of what awaits him), being in torments, and sees Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom (after both Abraham's and Lazarus' resurrection to spirit life - Born again as spirit). Luke 16:24. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame."

First, Lazarus was a converted child of God, so "carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom" is figurative for being one of the "dead in Christ." After all, why would the rich man be "buried" and yet Lazarus have some other event happen to him if both are immortal? In addition to this, why would it say "Abraham's bosom," and not God's, or Christ's, or heaven?

Imagine for a minute you are burning in the alleged hell fire, but not burning up... suffering the heat, pain and anguish this would certainly bring. Would you only ask Lazarus for just a drop of water for your tongue, to cool it? Would his tongue be hotter than his outer body? Would he not be withering in pain, screaming in agony? Have you ever been burned before? Imagine your whole body in such a fire, receiving the pain of such burns. Would you be asking for a "drop" of water for your tongue? Does this scenario makes sense in that situation?

Imagine you lived a life of selfishness, willingly and willfully ignoring God, and the needs of others, and then you died, became unconscious, until you were resurrected back to life for judgment. You suddenly realize that you have received the death penalty, and know you are to be thrown into the lake of fire as punishment. Would you be a little fearful? Have you ever been so nervous or afraid that your mouth dried up and you could hardly swallow?

This story describes this very thing. We can't read into it more than what is really there.

What about Christ and the three apostles who actually SAW "Elijah"?

Matt 17:1, "Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." 5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying,"This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. 7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid." 8 When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only."

Seems like Elijah was there, right? Well, let's look at this more carefully. First, do you think those three apostles had pictures of Elijah and Moses? How did they "know" this was either? They obviously were aware of who they were seeing in some unexplained way. In addition, we need to look at what Christ Himself stated about "what" they saw...

Mt. 17:9, "Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead."

The apostles did NOT actually see the living Moses and Elijah. They saw a "vision" of what it will be like when they are resurrected. Remember that prior to this event, Christ stated...

Matt 16:28, "Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."

This scripture, if taken to be a literal "coming in His kingdom," was NEVER fulfilled in the lifetimes of those apostles. Did Christ come into His Kingdom, even as of today? NO! The "vision" is fulfillment of the scriptures above, stating "some" of those apostles would "see" Christ coming in His Kingdom. They saw what Christ would look like in that vision where Moses and Elijah would also be there with Him, as ALL true Christians will be.

Also, Christ stated that His return was what "coming in His kingdom" was all about... the kingdom being brought to earth... a new age, a new world, right here on earth.

Let's look at yet another problem scripture for those who point to going to heaven.

Lk. 23:39-43 "And one of the hanged criminals blasphemed him, saying, If you are the Christ, save yourself and us. But answering, the other rebuked him, saying, Do you not fear God, for you are in the same judgment? And we indeed justly, for we receive things worthy of what we did. But this One did nothing wrong. And he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, Today you will be with me in paradise."

The above scripture is mis-punctuated which conveys the false idea that both Christ and this thief were in heaven directly after they died that same day. However, we saw where Christ was after HE died... the grave or tomb with the rock door covering it for three days and three nights...(Matt 12:40) FAR longer than the "today" He mentions...

1 Cor.. 15:3, "For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures."

If Christ was in the tomb after His death and for three complete 24 hour days, how could he also be in "Paradise" (which people think means heaven) with the thief? Keep in mind that the original scriptures did NOT have punctuation. The comma that is placed before the word 'today' changes the meaning of the sentence: "I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise." This is taken to mean that the thief would go with Jesus to heaven the very same day. (As we've already seen above, Christ had NOT ascended to heaven until after His resurrection as the perfect sacrifice). However, if the coma is placed after the word "today," the sentence can be assumed to mean that on that day Jesus was telling the thief that he would eventually be with him in Paradise: "I say to you today - this day I'm saying to you - you will be (future tense) with me in paradise."

Jesus was the first-born from the dead to receive eternal and immortal life. (1 Cor.. 15:20;23; Col. 1:13-18). If there are people in heaven BEFORE Christ, He no longer is the FIRST born from the dead. Why have all the saints in heaven with God but keep Christ out and THEN resurrect Him from actual death? Christ is the FIRST one to be resurrected from death, the FIRST human being BORN (a second time) into the family of God as a spirit being.

Let's take a closer look at several scriptures in the Resurrection chapter, 1 Cor.. 15. Remember, the topic is the resurrection of the "dead." The controversy was that there was no resurrection of the dead, so Paul goes into detail about what this would mean for humanity. Beginning in verse 12, Paul lays out what it would mean if there was no resurrection of those who died, and especially, of Christ Himself, having died as all humans do...

1 Cor. 15:12 "Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen."

Christ died like a human being... dead, lifeless, and was placed in the tomb for three days and three nights. If this did not happen, then the sign He said would indicate He was the Christ was false. Paul is clearly stating that if Christ was NOT resurrected, then He is still in the grave, salvation ended and no human who is "asleep" now has any hope...

... "14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up — if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable."

1 Cor. 15:20 "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.

There is an order to when humans are resurrected. Christ was the first, then those who will be in the first resurrection, and others to follow in two more resurrections. The truth is simple when you combine all scriptures together.

One more problem scripture for many. . .

Mark 12:26 "'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living."

Context is vital to understanding scriptures. Notices the scriptures PRIOR to the above quote. This is breaking into the discussion the Sadducees had with Christ because they didn't believe in a resurrection from the dead, and tried to trip Him up on marriage issues...

Mark 12:23 "Therefore, in the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be? For all seven had her as wife. :24 Jesus answered and said to them. Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying..."

The context of God being "the God of the living" is that the dead rise in the resurrection. "In the resurrection, when they rise" were Christ's words. The resurrection, at Christ's return, when they rise... plainly states being raised from the dead, from the graves where all the dead are "resting". God "IS" the God of the living, but the context is obviously that of the fact that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would be part of the living, at the first resurrection, not that they are living NOW, at this moment, in heaven.

"Heb 11:39 "And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise..."

What promise was this? Eternal Life, which they have not yet received because the resurrection has not occurred yet.

Once again... Mark 12: "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living."

Christ's whole purpose in that discourse was to point to the FACT that the dead would be alive BECAUSE of the resurrection to life again, and that the resurrection was a reality that would occur. Remember, the Sadducees did NOT believe there was a resurrection and Christ was addressing THIS point in making that statement... "concerning the dead, that they rise," and "you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God." Both of these point directly to God's power to resurrect all those who are now dead, in one of the resurrections.

What about going to heaven?

John 3:13, "And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, [even] the Son of man which is in heaven."

This scripture, from the mouth of Christ himself, plainly states that no man has ascended into heaven.

John 1:18, "No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared [him]." (See the article on Christ for explanation of old testament contact, face to face, with God)

Acts 2:29, "Men [and] brethren, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us to this day. :34 For David is not ascended into the heavens..."

If there was any person who would have had the ticket to heaven, it would have been King David, yet even HE isn't in heaven.

Heaven as a reward is nowhere stated for humanity. There are scriptures that mention the "kingdom of heaven," or that our reward is in heaven, but this is not saying the kingdom is "IN" heaven or we are going TO heaven...

Luke 6:23 "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven,"

Matt 16:27 "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works."

Rev 22:12 "And behold, I am coming quickly, (second coming) and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work."

Christ is returning to this earth where the resurrection will take place and we shall join Christ in the sky (sorry, no rapture before Christ's second coming), then go to Jerusalem where the battle of "Armageddon" will take place, and then Christ's feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, exactly where He ascended from...

Acts 1:11 "Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? (First heaven) This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." NKJV

More on the topic of where Christ will be is discussed at the end of this article.

What about "everlasting fire" and similar phrases?

These are a few scriptures used by many to support their concept of people burning forever, without considering all the additional scriptures on the subject that modify seemingly apparent meanings they think they read.

Here are some definitions for some of the words that have been translated into "everlasting" or "forever" in English:

Matt 18:8, "Wherefore if your hand or your foot offend you, cut them off, and cast them from you: it is better for you to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire."

Matt 25:41, "Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:"

Matt 25:46, "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."

Mt. 25:41, and many other places use the word "everlasting." Taking what we have learned above about death and soul, we can take this word in context of the whole picture.

Matt 25:46 "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."

Notice the contrast between "everlasting punishment" and "eternal Life." This is clearly contrasting the difference between life and death. It states "everlasting punishMENT," not "everlasting punishING." There is quite a difference. Eternal death is forever, never to have life again, everlasting death, just as eternal life is life forever.

Notice further...

Jude :7 "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."

Are Sodom and Gomorrah STILL burning today? Of course not. They burned until there was nothing else to burn, and then the fire went out. The words "eternal fire" can't mean what everyone thinks they mean. When someone is cast into the future lake of fire, they will be burned up...

Mal. 4:1, "For, behold, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that comes shall burn them up, says the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch."

This is complete destruction, not burning in fire forever. Not having "root or branch" means total destruction from which no life can spring back. Just like a plant that has been burned on the surface can regenerate a branch from the living root, and a branch that isn't completely dead can spring forth another shoot, when root and branch are completely burned up, there is no way for any life to spring back. Once this "second death" occurs, there will be no hope of life again...

Isa. 41:11, "Behold, all they that were incensed against you shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with you shall perish. 12 you shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with you: they that war against you shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought."

Obad. 15, "For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as you hast done, it shall be done to you: your reward shall return upon thine own head. 16 For as you have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been."

Realize that when someone is cast into the lake of fire, and receives the second death, their consciousness ceases, they die, they burn up, and once they are completely consumed, there will be nothing left. It will be as though they never existed in the first place. That is a permanent, everlasting punishment that will never change... It is a fearful thing to lose your very existence, but that is what the scriptures tell us waits for those who willingly and knowingly rebel against God's truth. (Keep in mind that this "willfulness" is after they have been called and given understanding of God's plan and truth, and are not deceived, and yet still reject God).

Let scriptures teach us so we do not have to force them to say things which God never intended.

The following discussion is taken from the article Universal Salvation which refutes the idea that all people will receive salvation, but unfortunately, all people will NOT receive eternal salvation!

The words translated "death" in the New Testament are as follows:

NT: 2288 thanatos (than'-at-os); from NT:2348; (properly, an adjective used as a noun) death (literally or figuratively): - X deadly, (be ... death.)

NT:615 apokteino (ap-ok-ti'-no); from NT:575 and kteino (to slay); to kill outright; figuratively, to destroy: - put to death, kill, slay.

NT:337 anaireo (an-ahee-reh'-o); from NT:303 and (the active of) NT:138; to take up, i.e. adopt; by implication, to take away (violently), i.e. abolish, murder: - put to death, kill, slay, take away, take up.

NT:599 apothnesko (ap-oth-nace'-ko); from NT:575 and NT:2348; to die off (literally or figuratively): - be dead, death, die, lie a-dying, be slain (X with).

NT:520 apago (ap-ag'-o); from NT:575 and NT:71; to take off (in various senses): - bring, carry away, lead (away), put to death, take away.

NT:336 anairesis (an-ah'-ee-res-is); from NT:337; (the act of) killing: - death.

Death isn't "separation from God."

Gen 2:17 "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shalt not eat of it: for in the day that you eatest thereof you shalt surely die."

Here, God plainly tells Adam that if he eats of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would die. After Adam and Eve ate of this tree, they were yet alive, so does this mean that death doesn't really mean death as we know it? NO! The death God was referring to was spiritual or eternal death... in other words, the penalty for sin is cessation of life forever... DEATH!

The word "die" comes from OT:4191 muwth (mooth); a primitive root: to die... causatively, to kill:

Jesus Christ came to this Earth and paid the death penalty in our stead. This is the most foundational belief in the Christian faith. Believing this is vital for salvation.

If this word does NOT mean death, then why did Jesus Christ have to "die" an actual death... ceasing His life, and lay in the grave for three days and three nights? Christ came to pay the penalty for sin, which is actual death, NOT some contrived and reasoned spiritual meaning that means something else. Christ actually died on that cross. His life ended. He had no consciousness of those three days and nights. If it were not for the Father resurrecting Him from that death, He would still be dead.

If "death" does not mean actual death... the end of life, then we have to ask more questions. All humans have sinned and "death" happens to all...

Rom. 5:12 "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for (because) that all have sinned:"

Death is the result of sin because all have sinned. According to "universal salvation" believers, death doesn't mean actual death or end of life in some way. So, we have to ask, what death is being referred to above if all have experienced it? What death is being referenced in the following scripture?

Matt 16:28 "Verily I say to you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom."

This is clearly referring to death when people are placed in the grave, so THIS death really means death.

Ps 89:48 "What man is he that lives, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave?"

This is a clear reference to physical death... end of life and consciousness.

John 8:51 "Verily, verily, I say to you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death."

John 11:26 "And who ever lives and believes in me shall never die."

But wait a minute...Romans 5:12 tells us we have died... received death... every one of us, but in the above two scriptures, Christ tells us that we won't die if we keep His sayings. Something is wrong with the definition of "death" the universal salvation believers, and others, maintain. You cannot define death in a willy-nilly fashion. It either means one thing or it means another, but not two different and conflicting definitions. We can't have received death on the one hand, and yet on the other be promised that we would NOT see death if we keep Christ's sayings.

Some argue that if eternal death were the actual meaning in Genesis 2:17, then Christ would have to remain dead for eternity, so therefore, since Christ is NOT now dead, then death doesn't mean death and must mean something different. This might seem reasonable at first, but the bible tells us WHY Christ couldn't remain dead:

Acts 2:24 "Whom (Christ) God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it."

Christ, being God, was sinless and was never under the penalty of "eternal" death for His own sins. He suffered throughout life, then through the crucifixion, and ultimately the Father even turned His back on Christ and left Him alone and without contact for that moment when Christ cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me." Then Christ actually died. The Father separated Himself from Christ because all the sins of the whole world were placed on Him and God cannot abide with sin. That is why He had to actually die, and give up all life, or the sins of the world would not be forgiven. Sin is SO bad that it took the actual death of a God being to remove it and to provide any hope for us. If death simply means "separation from God," or "correction" in the "lake of fire," WHY did Christ have to literally die for us?

Christ did NOT have to actually die if death means anything other than the actual end of life. No argument can escape this fact. The reason Christ did NOT have to remain dead was because, as the scriptures state, it was not possible for death to hold Him because of His character, His nature and His sinlessness. Humankind's nature is such that we have sinned and if we paid the penalty for sin... actual death, we could NOT be resurrected because we are STILL sinners, even after a resurrection to physical life. Our natures must be changed in order to be resurrected to spirit.

Another thought to consider is this: Why was Christ three days and three nights in the grave? Why didn't the Father resurrect Christ instantly after He died? Why this time delay of three days and three nights? It was to show mankind that death means death... cessation of life, mind, consciousness. Christ was lifeless. No thoughts, no nothing. End of existence. That was the penalty we had over our heads because of sin, and Christ paid it. The Father was showing us that death MEANS death and that human destiny, apart from God, would end that way.

If we approach this subject and allow the bible to define it's own terms, we can see the plain truth on this subject. The "second" death implies that there is a first death and this first death is physical death...

Repeating Heb 9:27 "And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment:"

Why would God "appoint" men to death if "death" didn't mean actual death? Did God appoint Adam and Eve to sin... cause them to sin? The "second" death is named "second" because it is similar to the first death, otherwise referring to "second" when referencing "death" would be moot. If God meant anything but actual death, He could have easily stated that without veiling the term in a way that even the bible doesn't define...

Rom. 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death;"

James 5:19 "Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins." NKJV

Throughout the bible, when death is discussed, it means just that... DEAD. Christ actually DIED, period. He didn't experience some spiritualized form of "death." He died like every human being who has ever lived has died or we do not have a savior. To believe that Christ paid the death penalty for our sins on the one hand, and then to believe that death doesn't really mean dead, is a disparity which cannot be bridged in truth.

Notice Hebrews 2:9-14:

Heb 2:9 "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."

Heb 2:14 "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;"

What are we being told her? Christ was made flesh and blood in order to suffer (taste) death FOR us. If "death" means something other than actual death, why did Christ have to become flesh and blood to "taste" death FOR us? If death is already on us then why does it say that Christ came to taste it FOR us? It is obvious throughout scriptures that Christ came in the flesh to pay the penalty for sin FOR us, which is death as all the above scriptures clearly point to. A blood sacrifice in the death which Christ paid with His own life on the stake means He paid the sacrifice we have incurred due to sin in our lives and which we cannot possibly pay on our own without ceasing to exist.

The ultimate proof that death means death and NOT "separation from God."

Let's use a bit of logic in this. IF...

  • IF Christ's "body" is all that died, and He was "out and about" during His body's "burial time..."

...then we can't believe in His sacrifice or His importance in paying the penalty for sin. Consider: If the penalty for sin is death, yet "souls" leave the body after "death," (the body DOES die, doesn't it?) this would mean that sin's penalty is being paid by the death of a physical body... in this case, that of Christ's body on the cross. If this is believed by Christianity, "THEN EVERY HUMAN WHOSE BODY HAS "DIED" HAS ALREADY PAID THE PENALTY FOR THEIR OWN SINS."

THINK!!! If the death of Christ's "body" was enough to pay for all sins of all humanity, how does that differ from "your" body dying, and your "soul" leaving it at "death" to be somewhere else? IT DOESN'T! This would mean that all humans don't really need a savior because they already paid for their own sins by their own body dying. If Christ was alive elsewhere those three days and three nights, this means it was just a body... flesh and blood... nothing more... that died. Just like a cow or bull being sacrificed, (Heb 10:4 "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins." NKJV) there would be nothing special about that human body... no more "special" than your body or my body. If it is merely a "house" we inhabit, and then leave when it "dies," there was no need for Christ to go through the same facade "for us." We already do the exact same thing when "we" die, so this HAS to pay for our own sins, and we can eliminate Christ from the equation. Was Christ's body, alone, so much more special... so much more precious? How would this body be an "only begotten" body? God could create a billion of them for Christ "consciousness/soul" to inhabit, right?

If the body does, indeed, die, as scriptures state clearly, and there is no "soul" that lives on apart FROM this body, THEN, AND ONLY THEN, would we need salvation from the death God requires for sin. We CAN'T pay for THAT penalty ourselves because God doesn't waive the penalty without a sacrifice for that sin. There is no chance without a resurrection which requires someone ELSE to pay that death penalty FOR each and every one of us, so that we may have our lives BACK from death.

Apart from Christ's ultimate sacrifice of His whole life and being... all He was, the very Word of God (the God of the Old Testament and God of the Old Testament-2) in the flesh, AS FLESH, we could not be forgiven. WITH this sacrifice... this true DEATH... cessation of consciousness... oblivion... comes the means to escape the true second death... that of ceasing to exist for all eternity.

Do you realize that believing a body is all that died is exactly what Satan is teaching through this doctrine most traditional Christians believe? It is essentially saying... "WE DON'T NEED CHRIST BECAUSE WE ALREADY DID IT ON OUR OWN." ("You shall NOT surely die..." the serpent stated) This is a "destructive heresy" within the Christian community, well veiled, and which is a slap in Christ's face as to what He really risked and gave as payment for all humanity, and the depth of the horrors of sin itself. Christ gave His all... His mind, thoughts, all of His being... His whole life, PERIOD. He did not simply pack up and leave the body that died on that cross. When He cried, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit," He knew He was on death's door, and that the Spirit in man which he spoke of, which He also had, (as all humans have), would return to God.

That is the full message of the new Passover observance Christ initiated for all Christians!

Resurrection to physical life once again:

Keeping in mind the definitions for "hell" given above, let's look at some direct references to when people long dead will be brought back to life...

The valley of dry bones of Ezekiel 37 is a classic explanation of the second resurrection...

Ezekiel 37:5, "Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live: 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I [am] the LORD."

This describes a physical resurrection to flesh and blood, not as a spirit being as described for some elsewhere.

Ezekiel 37:12 "Therefore prophesy and say to them, valley of dry bones, Thus says the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall you know that I the LORD have spoken [it], and performed [it], says the LORD."

Notice here God is speaking to people who are in their graves, and from which God causes them to come up OUT of these graves. These scriptures don't distinguish between "evil" people and "good" people, between people who are in heaven or hell, or people who have eternal life in heaven or will burn in hell. Right now, these people don't know anything, but God Himself states that WHEN He opens their graves and resurrects them to physical life, THEN they will have awareness and KNOW that God is God. If they were in heaven or hell, wouldn't they know that God is God already?

There will be a time when every human who has ever lived will be brought back to life as part of God's plan.

Most traditional Christians believe we either go to heaven or go to hell, as described above. For those who believe all those "saved" who have died are now in heaven as their reward, we have a few more issues to address...

Rev 22:12 "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work."

Christ is speaking about His return, His second coming to earth, and what is He bringing with Him? "My give to every one according to his work." If people are in heaven and already have that as their reward, why would Christ tell us He is bringing our reward with Him back to earth? Because, the dead in Christ will be resurrected, and Christ will reward all of those in that resurrection.

Notice also that there is a time when ALL those yet dead who will stand before Christ (who judges all).

1 Cor 15:20 "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming." NKJV

Christ, the "FIRSTfruit" was the first to be born again in His resurrection to eternal life. Then the first resurrection of the church saints takes place at Christ's second coming. The second and third resurrections will be after the millennial reign of Christ...

Rev 20:5 "But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished."

Rev 20:12 "And I saw the dead, small and great, standing (resurrected to life) before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades (the grave) delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire."

"And books were opened" refers to the opening of the books of the scriptures to the minds of all those resurrected to physical life who never had a calling or chance to understand God's plan in this age. These scriptures cover a lifetime for these people... a time long enough for them to be judged after their resurrection to physical life, and given their ONLY chance to understand God's will. Remember, they were NOT called in their previous lives. Billions of them were born and died BEFORE Christ was even on earth to give His life. There is no other name by which salvation comes, so they couldn't have heard about Christ and couldn't receive salvation unless God had another plan. Vs. 15 shows that these are not all condemned people, but judged throughout their lives, and any who fail to respond to God and are not finally written in the book of life will be destroyed in the lake of fire, which is their second, and final, death.

Now, we still have another issue to pick back up. If heaven is the reward for humanity who are saved, why won't Christ be there with them in heaven for eternity?

Let's take a look at exactly where CHRIST, and the Kingdom He is going to set up, will be upon His second coming:

Already mentioned above... Acts 1:11 "You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven."

Christ is coming back to this earth...

Zechariah 14:4, "And his feet shall stand in that day (of His return) 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."

Christ is to actually arrive at the Mount of Olives (after the first resurrection of the saints) exactly where He left from when He rose to heaven, but why does He come back here to earth instead of taking us all to heaven?

Micah 4:1 "But in the last days it shall come to pass, [that] the mountain (government or kingdom) of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, (world's governments) and it shall be exalted above the hills; (small nations, etc.) and people shall flow to it. :2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. :7. . . and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion Jerusalem) from henceforth, even for ever."

Christ will be HERE, on earth ruling the universe for eternity... the center of the universe and God's kingdom, so why would we be in heaven when we have work to do here?

Revelation 5:10 "And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."

Those who respond to God and are resurrected from their graves here on earth at His second coming WON'T be in heaven, but will be ruling on this earth with Christ.

Luke 1:32, "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David:"

Christ receives the same throne that King David had, on this earth, (and which still exists as a throne today on this earth).

Revelation 3:21 "To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."

Those who respond to God will sit WITH Christ on the throne HE receives, and again, where is that throne and kingdom established? On this earth!

Daniel 2:35 "Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, (symbolic of a group of nations and governments) broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, (government or kingdom) and filled the whole earth."

This kingdom of God fills the whole EARTH, not just heaven.

Isaiah 2:2 "And it shall come to pass in the last days, [that] the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. :3 And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem."

This all occurs on earth, not in heaven.

Matthew 5:3 "Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

This kingdom that the "poor in spirit" receive is OF heaven, not IN heaven.

Matthew 5:5 "Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."

The meek inherit the earth, not heaven. After the millennial reign of Christ, He will turn over the control of all things to the Father, who will come down to this earth:

1 Cor 15:24 "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power."

Once all is accomplished with mankind, this earth will be burned up by the "lake of fire" destroying all evil and this very earth:

2 Peter 3:10 "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. :12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?" NKJV

Then we see a new creation...

Isa 65:17 "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind." NKJV

Isa 66:22 "'For as the new heavens and the new earth Which I will make shall remain before Me,' says the LORD, 'So shall your descendants and your name remain.'" NKJV

2 Peter 3:13 "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." NKJV

Notice is says new heavenS, not just one, so we can expect "space" or the bodies out there, to change, as well as this earth.

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 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 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. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

First heaven, our atmosphere/sky passes away along with the entire earth. Keep in mind that this new earth will likely be as large as our present day sun, or larger... possibly out of necessity...if it is a physical creation and NOT spiritual...

Rev 21:16 "The city (New Jerusalem) is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. :16 Its length, breadth, and height are equal."

This is a city about 1350 miles SQUARE in size. 1350 miles straight up, on THIS size earth, would be well into space, and the sheer weight of such a massive structure would throw this earth instantly out of balance like a top slowing down... it would destroy this planet in a moment. Imagine a new earth the size of Jupiter, our sun, (which is an average size sun) or something thousands of times larger than our sun.

"The largest known star is VY Canis Majoris; a red hypergiant star in the Canis Major constellation, located about 5,000 light-years from Earth. University of Minnesota professor Roberta Humphreys recently calculated its upper size at more than 1,540 times the size of the Sun. Placed in our Solar System, its surface would extend out past the orbit of Saturn." (Quote from - video showing size relativity...

This new Earth will be like nothing else in the universe, which the children of God will inherit, along with the rest of the entire universe...

Rev 21:7 "He who overcomes shall inherit all things."

The truth of God's plan for humanity far surpasses what we could imagine, and the scriptures are clear about what God has in store for humanity. The simple concept of going to heaven, or those we may know burning in hell forever is a false concept that is nothing compared to the truth!

This study would not be complete without bringing up an obvious yet very much overlooked aspect of the nature of God. There are many ways for people to shame God or His name. One of these ways is to assign a nature or attitude to God which is really from the mind of Satan himself.

Imagine your own family, those you dearly love. If they turned against you and rejected you, would you like to know that they are condemned to burn forever in agony? How would that serve you or them? Would it change their minds any if they willingly choose to rebel and refused to change?

Ask yourself this; "How does God benefit from doing such a thing to people?" Does it benefit Him? How does that express the nature of Love that God IS? There is no benefit or purpose whatsoever for having such a system. Only the mind of Satan could come up with such an accusation toward God. It is Satan that wants humanity to suffer forever. It is Satan's hate and loathing of humanity that has concocted such a hateful concept which creates untold emotional grief for millions of people. Likely, it is Satan and the fallen angels who actually prefer eternal death than to submitting to the Father and being lower than God's children forever.

Why would God want to have people He truly loves, but who rejected life, around and existing forever? Would you like to always know that your family members or friends (or anyone for that matter) were "out there" somewhere suffering untold agony, without end and who refused to accept God's ways?

Let's give God credit for love and mercy. What is more merciful and loving, killing someone and freeing them and everyone else from their evil, or torturing them without end? We relieve our own pets... put them out of their pain and misery where needed, so why would God extract pain and suffering for all eternity from those who refused to submit to His ways?

These scriptures are by no means all the scriptures that deal with these issues. Remember, this is a "mystery" that has to be addressed purposely and not something that one obtains by osmosis. It simply CAN'T work that way.

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